Two UCLA Health executives named top health care leaders by LA Business Journal

Left: John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health; right: Karen Grimley, PhD, RN, chief nursing executive of UCLA Health
Left: John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health; right: Karen Grimley, PhD, RN, chief nursing executive of UCLA Health

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Two UCLA Health executives have been recognized among the top health care leaders in the region in awards announced August 26 by Los Angeles Business Journal. Two other UCLA Health individuals, two hospitals and a research center were finalists.

John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health, was named health system executive of the year. Karen Grimley, PhD, RN, chief nursing executive of UCLA Health, was named hospital executive of the year. 

They accepted their honors during the publication’s annual Health Leadership Awards event and panel discussion, held virtually. 

Dr. Mazziotta has served in his current positon since 2015. Under his leadership, UCLA Health and its David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have accelerated their trajectory among the world’s top providers of exceptional patient care, innovative research and impactful medical education. 

In July, UCLA Health hospitals ranked #1 in California, #1 in Los Angeles and #4 nationally in the annual assessment by U.S. News & World Report. In March, the medical school ranked #6 in research and #11 in primary care.

Mazziotta has guided UCLA Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the system’s medical centers have sufficient capacity and resources to manage the crisis and safely provide care. From the start, he was involved in PPE procurement, logistics and all levels of operation, as well as reaching out to donors and friends of UCLA Health for their support.

“I’m incredibly proud of our clinical employees across Southern California who, under the leadership of UCLA Hospital System CEO Johnese Spisso, have met extraordinary challenges with commitment, compassion and courage,” Mazziotta said. “From our hospitals and community clinics to the medical school’s research and education enterprises, personnel across our academic health system have repeatedly distinguished themselves with their teamwork and skill.”

Mazziotta, a neurologist, joined UCLA’s faculty in 1983. He has served as founding director of the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, chair of the Department of Neurology, and dean of the medical school, among other positions.

Grimley joined UCLA Health in 2015. Under her leadership, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, and UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital have earned Magnet Status for Nursing Excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center — the highest and most prestigious distinction a healthcare organization can receive for nursing.

Grimley, with 30 years of nursing leadership experience, is a key member of the UCLA Health command center team overseeing pandemic-related planning and response. For example, she participated in development of hundreds of new policies, procedures and protocols and, in collaboration with the chief medical and quality officer, issued daily reports to keep employees informed. Grimley expedited implementation of iPad technology to keep hospitalized patients in touch with their families and created respite space for nursing staff to decompress, reflect and rest.

“Maintaining a human connection with patients and offering wellness resources to nurses are absolutely essential to the compassionate care UCLA Health provides every day, and especially critical during a pandemic,” said Grimley, who also serves as assistant dean of the UCLA School of Nursing. “I’m grateful for the unwavering dedication of our nurses and the collaboration across the entire health system to ensure safe, high-quality care.” 

Johnese Spisso, MPA, president of UCLA Health and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, was a finalist for hospital CEO or president of the year. 

Robert Cherry, MD, chief medical and quality officer of UCLA Health, was a finalist for hospital executive of the year. 

Also named finalists in their categories were Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica; UCLA Office of Clinical Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine, and UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center as top research organization.

UCLA Health comprises four hospitals on two campuses — Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical CenterUCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital on the university’s main campus in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica — and more than 200 medical practices throughout Southern California. It also includes the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.