WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Len B. Preslar Jr., who led North Carolina Baptist Hospital to new heights in quality of service, financial strength and state-of-the-art facilities, will retire June 30 as president and CEO.
Preslar, who will turn 60 in August, has been chief executive for 19 years. He has been chief financial officer for 13 years and has worked at the hospital for 38.
Preslar has been a leader in the hospital field, chairing the North Carolina Hospital Association Board and serving on the Executive Board of the Council of Teaching Hospitals and on the Governing Board of the University HealthSystem Consortium. In the Winston-Salem community, his many activities include chairing the United Way and serving on the Executive Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. The Old Hickory Council of the Boy Scouts named him its 2001 Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences are the two organizations that comprise Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, the Piedmont Triad’s largest employer with more than 11,000 jobs.
Donny C. Lambeth, chief operating officer of the hospital, was named as interim president. Lambeth joined the hospital in 1972 and was Preslar’s first recruit.
Under Preslar’s leadership, Baptist evolved from a hospital to a health care system, adding long-term care and rehabilitation services, hiring primary care physicians, developing affiliations with 21 regional hospitals and acquiring MedCost, the largest PPO network in the Carolinas.
Assets increased from $290 million to $1.3 billion during Preslar’s tenure as CEO. System revenues are expected to exceed $940 million this year. Baptist has an Aa bond rating, which only 90 hospitals across the United States enjoy. Employment at the hospital system has grown from 3,700 to more than 7,700.
Baptist Hospital has ranked in the top 2 percent of its peers in patient satisfaction for the past five consecutive years. “We have developed a culture of continuous process improvement here that results in increasingly excellent service and care for our patients,” Preslar said. Preslar led the implementation of a fully functioning electronic medical record, which facilitates excellent outcomes and service. “Our employees and physicians take great pride in putting patients first,” he said.
Facilities and programs established while Preslar has been CEO include the new Comprehensive Cancer Center facility, the Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation programs at CompRehab, long-term care and rehabilitation services at Oak Summit, heart transplantation, positron emission tomography (PET), Gamma Knife and the Downtown Health Plaza. CareNet, the hospital’s outpatient pastoral counseling network, has grown to become the largest in the country, serving 85 percent of counties in North Carolina at 19 sites.
“I am proud of our faith-based heritage,” said Preslar, a Baptist himself. “There is a powerful combination of faith and science here that creates the best possible environment for healing. It is our commitment to a unique culture of quality and service excellence that I am most proud of.”
During his tenure as CEO, Baptist has invested more than $450 million in new facilities, adding more than 2 million square feet comprising more than 60 percent of its operating facilities.
“Len is a strong leader who has assembled an effective team that has resulted in Baptist Hospital’s being as well managed as any in the country,” said Steve Robertson, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Trustees.
Preslar moved up his planned retirement to facilitate the reorganization of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center into a more integrated structure. In March, the Medical Center announced plans for a single overarching governing body with the responsibility and authority to develop a unified vision and joint strategy and implement a coordinated business plan under the leadership of a single CEO.
“I fully support the reorganization,” Preslar said. “In my opinion, the single-CEO model is essential for us to achieve our potential as one of the greatest academic medical centers in America. The new CEO should have the opportunity of selecting the new presidents.”
Preslar “always has put the best interests of the organization ahead of his own,” said Robertson. “The Board joins me in expressing our gratitude to him for his dedication to the hospital and service to the community.”
A native of Concord, Preslar is a graduate of Wake Forest and earned his MBA from UNC-G.
Lambeth progressed through a series of accounting positions at the hospital until being named chief financial officer in 1988. He was named chief operating officer in 1999.
A native of Winston-Salem, Lambeth is a graduate of High Point University and earned his MBA from Wake Forest. He is a leader in the community, serving as chairman of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and a trustee of Forsyth Technical Community College and Hospice and Palliative Care Center.
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