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CEO Message

CEO Message: The Legacy Left Behind

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” — Henry David Thoreau 

On Monday, Duane Dauner, who led CHA for 33 years until his retirement in 2017, died in a car accident near his home in Palm Desert.  

This is a blow to all who knew him, all who worked with him, and to all who value better health care in California. 

It would be no overstatement to say that Duane played a monumental role in shaping California’s health care landscape. His unwavering dedication to hospitals, their mission, and their success was in his DNA. 

For newer members of the California hospital family, Duane was a visionary leader and a life-force all his own. The son of a Kansas farming family and a math professor by background, Duane got his start in the hospital field in 1966 when he joined the Kansas Hospital Association as its CEO. In 1975, he took over the reins of the Missouri Hospital Association, where he spent 10 years before moving west to join CHA in 1985. 

Among his many accomplishments at CHA: 

  • Laying the foundation for ACOs in California 
  • Creating the Hospital Fee Program 
  • Transparent reporting of hospital quality data 
  • Establishing the Hospital Quality Institute 
  • Helping develop the Affordable Care Act and implementing it in California 

Those who worked closely with Duane know well his commitment to hospitals. Even in retirement, Duane served on several hospital system Boards of Trustees. 

Now, Duane’s legacy compels all of us to carry forward a vision we all share: that of a healthier California.  

As Thoreau notes, “… we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” 

Each of you fulfills that promise every day, especially in this time of global crisis, as so many look to hospitals when they see little hope in other places. 

We can continue to honor Duane’s memory through our camaraderie and collaboration with our colleagues, our commitment to his values, and our unyielding service to the lives entrusted to us. 

We will share more information when received about any arrangements or opportunities to honor his memory.  

Rest in peace, Duane. 

~ Carmela