- Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chairman Bernard Tyson died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of 60, the Oakland, California-based health system said Sunday.
- Tyson was named CEO in 2013 after serving in a number of roles throughout Kaiser, including hospital administrator and chief operating officer. His career at Kaiser spanned more than 30 years.
- Gregory Adams was named interim chairman and CEO by the board. Adams most recently served as executive vice president and group president for the integrated health system.
Tyson was an influential figure in the healthcare industry. The 60-year-old was Kaiser Permanente’s first black CEO, and also one of the few black CEOs in healthcare and corporate America as a whole.
In a 2014 essay, he wrote about race in this country following the death of Michael Brown by a white police officer and the unrest that ensued. “Even as a CEO, the black male experience is my reality,” he said in the post.
As many health plans were bailing from the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, Tyson pledged to stick to the plans, citing mission. He also later defended the progress the ACA made in getting more people insurance coverage.
Though the executive faced criticism from worker groups over labor practices and sweeping profits, Tyson was a respected and popular leader. During his tenure, he rolled out multiple initiatives to address social determinants of health in California and across the country, and committed Kaiser would be carbon neutral by 2020.
Many have turned to social media to the mourn the loss of Tyson, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, who said on Twitter he and his wife were “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and healthcare pioneer, Bernard Tyson.”
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said Tyson “transformed the healthcare landscape in this country and around the world, allowing people to live longer, healthier lives. I will miss him greatly.” Tyson served on the heart association’s board.
Magic Johnson, the former basketball legend turned business titan, called Tyson “a great man, visionary, and an inspiration to African-Americans in our country.”
Tyson lead one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems and health plans serving 12.3 million members and operating 39 hospitals and more than 700 medical offices. Kaiser generated operating revenue of nearly $80 billion in 2018.
Bernard, a San Francisco area native, is survived by his wife, Denise Bradley-Tyson, and his sons, Bernard Tyson Jr., Alexander and Charles.