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Dennis Swan, long-time Sparrow Health System CEO and health industry thought leader, to retire

Monday, April 2, 2018  
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Dennis Swan, long-time president and CEO of Lansing-based Sparrow Health System announced today he plans to retire in October of this year. Swan, 70, took over the Sparrow helm in June 2005, after serving as interim president since November 2004 and in numerous executive roles prior to that for a total of over 37 years of service.

“Last year, as I was approaching age 70, I began to consider life after Sparrow.  But, as always, I wanted to see numerous projects through to completion,” says Swan. “It’s been an honor and privilege working to advance the region’s health and health care with such a strong and committed team of Board Members, Physicians, Nurses, Caregivers, Volunteers and Leaders.  Everyone here is dedicated to providing quality health care and service excellence for every Patient.  Now is the ideal time for Sparrow to begin the succession process.  The new phase of my life will bring more unstructured time and greater opportunities to be with my wife, daughter, son-in-law and three fantastic grandchildren.”

Under Swan’s leadership, Sparrow has made numerous improvements designed to enhance care for Patients and communities across the region, including becoming the first and only Michigan health system to become a member of the prestigious Mayo Clinic Care Network in 2012.  Sparrow twice earned the coveted Magnet designation for Nursing excellence.  Sparrow is also part of a rehabilitation joint venture with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Over the years, Swan has helped spearhead numerous programs, facility and fund-raising enhancements and he was instrumental in the formation of Affirmant Health Partners, the state’s largest clinically integrated network.

Under his guidance, numerous other strategic initiatives have come to fruition such as the development and construction of the Herbert-Herman Cancer Center, which brings world-class cancer care closer to home for Lansing area and mid-Michigan residents. Swan also encouraged the development of the network of Sparrow FastCares and Urgent Cares.

According to Richard Bruner, Sparrow Health System’s Chair,  “Dennis has always said that his fundamental job was to take care of people who take care of people.  He loves Sparrow and this region and has tirelessly worked to ensure timely, affordable and convenient access to quality care on a 24/7/365 basis.”

Mr. Bruner pointed to other significant accomplishments that have included the construction of the new Patient tower on the Lansing campus.  The 10-story, 450,000 square foot Sparrow Tower, opened in 2008 at a cost of $160-million.  In addition, the EPIC electronic medical record platform now links care across the Health System.

John Kepros, M.D., Immediate Past Chief of Staff, said he has always been impressed by Swan’s support of the Sparrow Way, in particular always putting the Patient first.  “He has truly distinguished Sparrow in this regard.  We wish him well and look forward to carrying on that tradition.”

The Health System has grown geographically to better serve the region.  Under Swan’s leadership, Sparrow has increased its geographic footprint to include approximately 70 locations throughout the state of Michigan, including the construction of a new Critical Access Hospital in Ionia, Michigan.

Swan has served the greater Lansing community as a strong advocate to improve the Michigan Avenue corridor and to grow jobs within the health care sector of the economy.  As one of the region’s largest employers, the Sparrow team consists of more than 8,500 Caregivers comprised of Physicians, Nurses, Leaders and Staff.  He is especially proud of the nearly 2,000 Volunteers that give of themselves for our Patients.

Swan is a respected thought leader within the health care industry. He has served on numerous Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) committees throughout his career. He was a member of MHA’s executive committee from 2011 through 2015, and Board Chair during the 2013-2014 program year.  Swan also chaired the MHA Health Foundation Board of Directors in 2014-2015 and is currently a Foundation board member.  He has chaired the MHA Health Information Strategy Committee and just completed a term as Chair of the MHA Legislative Policy Panel. Swan has also represented hospitals on the American Hospital Association Region 5 Policy Board.

Consistent with the Sparrow’s formal succession plan, the Board of Directors will establish a comprehensive search process as well as a committee in the coming weeks.

Sparrow, a member of the prestigious Mayo Clinic Care Network, is mid-Michigan’s premier healthcare organization that includes hospitals in Lansing, St. Johns, Ionia and Carson City as well as Physicians Health Plan, Sparrow Physicians Health Network, the Sparrow Medical Group and the Michigan Athletic Club. Sparrow is affiliated with Michigan State University’s three human health colleges. Through these partnerships and the dedication of our 10,000 Caregivers, Sparrow pursues a vision to be nationally recognized as a leader in quality and Patient experience. For more information, visit

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