The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems recently announced the hiring of Dr. Bruce Siegel as the organization’s new chief executive officer. Siegel, the first African American to head a major hospital association, will lead NAPH as they continue to address many of the current issues in health care as well as those in the future.

“He really is, to our way of thinking, the ideal person to be running NAPH over the next several years,” Larry Gage, NAPH president told reporters Monday.

NAPH, which represents the nation’s largest metropolitan hospitals and health systems, operates on a safety net mission, which is to provide high volumes of quality health care to low-income individuals. In addition, the organization extends health services to include those who are uninsured and underinsured regardless of their ability to pay.

Siegel’s arrival comes at a time when the nation’s health care system is experiencing tremendous change. With the passing of the monumental health care reform bill, safety net hospitals will acquire an additional 32 million uninsured or financially decrepit Americans.

Prior to serving as research professor and director of the Center for Health Care Quality at George Washington University, Siegel received a doctorate in medicine from Cornell University Medical College. Through his work in seeking to improve quality healthcare for all Americans, he will bring vast knowledge and experience to NAPH when he assumes the position in the fall.

“Dr. Siegel’s unparalleled background in health policy, his experience in improving care and his unwavering support of vulnerable populations will truly be invaluable as we continue to fight for people who need public hospitals the most,” Dr. Kirk Calhoun, NAPH board chair told reporters. “Furthermore, his extensive expertise with the delivery of health care services…makes him an ideal fit for this important leadership position.”

Siegel will replace Christine Capito Burch, who served as the organization’s executive director for 20 years.

“I’m humbled and honored to be stepping into the shoes here at NAPH,” Siegel told reporters. “This is an organization that has supported the safety net and more importantly supported the millions of people who depend on the safety net for 30 years.”

Since its inception in 1980, NAPH has continued to be a strong presence on Capitol Hill, with the executive branch, and in many state capitals. The organization’s public facilities provide many essential services such as trauma care, primary care and neonatal intensive care, functioning as the nation’s default health insurance system.

“There is no excuse for care that is not the best and I believe that every system can provide the very best care,” Siegel told reporters. “It takes dedication, it takes focus, it takes resources and I think the members of NAPH have been often the people we’ve turned to as the leaders for making this happen. I’m looking forward to this new position to keep the network going and to really bring it to the ground level, so those 10 million Americans who depend on the safety net continue to get the very best care as this transformation moves ahead.”