Ochsner Health CEO is departing to take top post at Sutter Health

Warner Thomas has led Ochsner for 10 years. The Louisiana system has named Pete November as his successor.

Warner Thomas, who has led Ochsner Health for a decade, is leaving the organization to become the chief executive officer of Sutter Health in California.

Ochsner Health announced Thomas’ departure Tuesday and also revealed his successor. Pete November, Ochsner’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, will take over as CEO of the Louisiana-based system.

Appropriately enough, November will assume his new role on November 1.

Thomas has been with Ochsner Health since 1998 and became CEO in 2012.

Andy Wisdom, chair of Ochsner Health’s Board of Directors, said in a statement that Thomas has been “instrumental in our growth and success. Under Warner’s leadership, Ochsner Health has expanded across Louisiana and the Gulf South and built a national reputation for quality and excellence.”

Recently, Thomas led Ochsner’s acquisition of Rush Health Systems.

In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive, Thomas said, “We think Rush brings a great reputation in Mississippi, covers an important part of that state, and allows us to continue to think about how we expand outside of Louisiana and into other regions.”

Thomas has also been leading Ochsner's $100 million effort to improve health equity in Louisiana. He said it's a critical mission, since Louisiana lags almost all other states in measures of health. “We can’t do it alone," Thomas said. "We’re the catalyst in bringing folks together."

In taking the role of CEO of Sutter Health, Thomas will lead a not-for-profit network of 22 hospitals, 53,000 employees and over $14 billion in revenue in 2021.

“Leading Ochsner Health over the past 10 years will be one of the greatest accomplishments of my career,” Thomas said in a news release. “I leave Ochsner with a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction, but also a tremendous confidence in the future of the organization and the great accomplishments that are yet to come.”

“With Pete at the helm and the exceptional leadership team in place, Ochsner Health will continue to navigate the challenges brought on by a changing healthcare landscape.”

Ochsner Health’s board voted unanimously to name November as the organization’s next CEO.

“This organization is an incredibly special place, and I am grateful to the Board for the opportunity to help shape its bright future,”  November said in the news release.

“It is a privilege to partner with our 36,000 employees and physicians to meet the needs and exceed the expectations of the communities we serve. As the leading health system in the Gulf South, I take seriously the responsibility we have to fulfill our mission, deliver innovative care and keep Ochsner strong for years to come,” he said.

Thomas succeeds interim Sutter Health CEO James Conforti, who has held the role since January 2022. He'll take the post starting Dec. 1.

“I’m honored to be joining Sutter Health, where I’m committed to furthering its patient-focused mission as a leading not-for-profit integrated healthcare system," Thomas said in a statement. "As the landscape continues to evolve, I believe there are opportunities for Sutter Health to continue to advance the future of healthcare."

Thomas talked with Chief Healthcare Executive about Ochsner’s acquisition of Rush Health in this video.