University Medical Center chief executive Kathy Silver will retire July 1 after shepherding the troubled, county-run hospital through a turbulent four years.
Silver, 62, said Wednesday that this was a good time for her to step aside, when UMC is inching toward becoming an academic teaching hospital.
It's better to leave at the beginning of the transformation rather than midway through it, Silver said. She also acknowledged that the hospital's financial ills and high-profile problems have taken their toll.
"It has been a difficult 4½ years," Silver said in an interview after a hospital advisory board meeting.
The advisory board was formed last year to help oversee UMC's daily operations and as a building block for creating a teaching hospital.
Silver took over the helm of UMC in early 2007 after her predecessor, Lacy Thomas, was fired. Thomas faces criminal charges on allegations that he steered $10 million in contracts to his Chicago friends.
UMC continues to struggle financially. Last year, the hospital lost more than $70 million, mainly because it treats a large segment of uninsured and indigent patients.
Silver denied reports that Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly pressured her to quit.
While they have sometimes disagreed, the clash was never so acrimonious that the commissioners tried to drive her out, Silver said.
Giunchigliani said she never targeted Silver personally.
"I haven't been critical of Kathy," Giunchigliani said. "I've been critical of the overall administration."
Still, Giunchigliani said that Brian Brannman, UMC's chief operating officer, was her first pick for the hospital's top job in 2007. She thinks Brannman would be a good successor to Silver because of his military background.
"He's worked in stressful situations and could move things in a different direction," she said.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak praised Silver for effectively overseeing UMC despite all of the problems.
"I don't know if any one person can get a handle on everything that's going on over there," Sisolak said.
Commissioners Susan Brager and Mary Beth Scow both said the person who replaces Silver must keep reshaping UMC into an academic hospital.
It gives the commission a chance to take the bull by the horns and make UMC more viable for the future, Scow said.
Silver said the sudden death of University of Nevada, Reno President Milton Glick of a stroke in April was a sobering reminder to her of how short life is.
She wants to spend time with her 96-year-old mother . And Silver, an avid golfer, also hopes to regain the swing that she has neglected because of her job's long hours.