Elizabeth Wako, M.D., appointed president and CEO of Swedish Health Services

November 15, 2023 Swedish Communications

Dr. Wako has been serving as interim leader for the past seven months. 

Providence Swedish is thrilled to announce the appointment of Elizabeth Wako, M.D., as the permanent president and CEO of Swedish Health Services, effective immediately. Dr. Wako has been serving in an interim capacity for the past seven months, and her leadership is set to chart a transformational course for Swedish during a pivotal period in the organization's history.  

“As we prepare to embark on key initiatives that will improve the health of the region and carry our tradition of excellence well into the future, Dr. Wako brings a clear vision, a strategic mindset and a remarkable ability to build consensus and enthusiasm around our shared purpose,” says Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence.  

With a career spanning three decades, Dr. Wako’s path in medicine began at the bedside, as a registered nurse caring for psychiatric patients. Seeking a broader role on the care team, she went on to medical school in Utah and then to the University of Washington where she completed a residency in anesthesiology and a fellowship in perioperative medicine. In addition, she also holds an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. 

Previously, Dr. Wako served as chief executive of Providence Swedish’s Central Service Area. Since joining Swedish in 2011, her other executive roles include chief medical officer for the First Hill campus, chief operating officer for First Hill, and chief executive for First Hill and Cherry Hill campuses.  

“This is an exciting moment for the organization as Dr. Wako’s appointment represents a number of historic firsts for Swedish,” says R. Omar Riojas, Chair, Swedish Board of Trustees. “She is the first woman and first African American to lead the organization since it was founded by Dr. Nils Johanson 113 years ago. As a nurse, physician, woman of color, wife, and mother of four, she brings a unique perspective that is critical in shaping health-care delivery of the future.”  

Dr. Wako will continue to report to the Swedish Board of Trustees and to Dr. Hochman, the president and CEO of Providence. She will also work closely with leaders across Providence’s North Division to continue to integrate care for patients across the Puget Sound region and Alaska. 

About Providence Swedish 
Providence Swedish has served the Puget Sound region since the first Providence hospital opened in Seattle in 1877 and the first Swedish hospital opened in 1910. The two organizations affiliated in 2012 and today comprise the largest health care delivery system in Western Washington, with 22,000 caregivers, eight hospitals and 244 clinics. A not-for-profit family of organizations, Providence Swedish provided $540 million in community benefit in the Puget Sound region last year. The health system offers a comprehensive range of services and specialty and subspecialty care in a number of clinical areas, including cancer care, cardiovascular health, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive health and women’s and children’s care.   

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