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Oakland Native James Jackson Takes Helm at the Alameda Health System

“As an AHS patient, physician and Board president, I am delighted that Mr. Jackson is re-joining Alameda Health System and stepping into this vital role,” said Taft Bhuket, M.D., president of AHS’s Board of Trustees.

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James Jackson, newly appointed Interim CEO of Alameda Health System. Photo courtesy of AHS.

The Alameda Health System (AHS) Board of Trustees recently approved the appointment of former AHS executive James Jackson as the system’s interim chief executive Officer. Jackson assumed the role on January 25th after partnering on the transition with outgoing CEO Delvecchio Finley.

According to the AHS Board, Jackson was appointed to rebuild trust and resolve labor disputes, settle labor contracts and work with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on a potential new AHS governance structure.

An Oakland native, Jackson previously served as the chief administrative officer at Alameda and San Leandro Hospitals until 2018. His ability to build authentic internal and external partnerships to advance AHS’s mission was a key factor in the board’s decision.

“As an AHS patient, physician and Board president, I am delighted that Mr. Jackson is re-joining Alameda Health System and stepping into this vital role,” said Taft Bhuket, M.D., president of AHS’s Board of Trustees.

“During his successful tenure at AHS, James demonstrated an inclusive leadership style and aligned AHS towards the high quality care that our population deserves. Under his leadership, Alameda Health System will be well poised to excel and navigate the complex challenges ahead.”

With over 25 years of experience in healthcare, Jackson recently served as a consultant with the Alameda County Healthcare Services Agency to establish the COVID Futures unit in response to the pandemic. Prior to that, he was the chief operating officer for Seton Hospital and Seton Coastside in Daly City, part of the Verity Health System, where he was charged with defining and implementing strategic initiatives.

“I am excited to return to AHS, and lead an exceptional organization to strive every day to achieve our mission of caring, healing, teaching and serving all,” said Jackson. If someone asked me what has been my best job, I would be talking about this job. Since day one, I’ve settled in quite comfortably and we’ve been making progress on a number of initiatives.”

“I have stood beside AHS in good and challenging times, and I am confident that together, and in collaboration with the County and key partners, AHS will step up to address the stark health inequities exacerbated by the current public health and economic crises. My commitment to the AHS community is to meet the health care needs of our people.”

On day two of the job, Jackson reached out to the AHS staff, giving them a personal perspective of the kind of individual he is. “My family history is closely connected with the health of Alameda County,” said Jackson. “As a community-based physician and the chief of what was then known as the Maternal and Child Health Program at Highland Hospital, my father cared for many generations in the East Bay. I would often accompany him to Highland when he came to visit his patients. I would sit on the steps of the old wing and observe and think about the importance of serving others.”

“Thoughts around the importance of service are once again at the forefront of my thinking. As the interim-CEO, my first consideration is how I might serve you who are serving so many others.

“My priority is to ensure that you have the resources and support you need to care for our patients during these unprecedented times.

“While leaders may change, our mission will not. It is more critical than ever that our mission of caring, healing, teaching, and serving all, sustains us in our battle against the COVID pandemic that has affected our patients, our families, and our communities.”

Jackson acknowledged Finley and his leadership team for being dedicated stewards of AHS, noting that: “While there have been challenges, they have not left the cupboard bare,” he said. “Increased efficiencies, reductions in expenses, implementation of the EPIC system, and recent successful completion of Joint Commission surveys are a testament to their leadership and success in positioning the system for an uncertain future.”

Throughout the past year, AHS conducted quality awareness surveys which identified some challenges in the system. Within his first year at the helm, Jackson hopes to address those issues. “I want to focus on quality because making sure our patients are receiving the best care possible is paramount,” he noted. “In addition, I will also be focusing on governance. There is a discussion going on about the governance model and we want to make sure our voices are heard from the board.”

“Communication and trust are also of high importance to me,” said Jackson. “There’s an opportunity from a stakeholder perspective to reset the relationships. So, I want to reach out to our partners to make sure there are dialogue and clarity where our concerns are, and where opportunities are available.”

Over the next few weeks, Jackson will be visiting all AHS facilities on a regular basis, spending half a day to meet and listen to staff. “I will take in this learning to evaluate opportunities for an important change to ensure you are supported,” he said. “The conversations will be one-on-one with small groups. I will be actively engaging internal and external stakeholders and we will strengthen bridges where they exist, and where they are absent, we will construct them.”

“I’m a son of Oakland, I grew up here and I intend to spend the rest of my time here and serve this community from this role as the highlight of my personal and professional career. Thank you for all that you do, every day. I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to support your work.”

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