Jonathan Nalli is stepping down after 6 1/2 years as chief executive officer at Porter Health Care System to take over the reins Feb. 1 at the Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health.
Tuesday's announcement, which comes less than a year and a half after the opening of the new Porter Regional Hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6, took many by surprise in and out of the facility.
"What a wonderful opportunity for him, but what a loss for Porter County," said Sharon Kish, president of the United Way of Porter County.
Jonathan and wife Cathleen Nalli have served in various capacities with the United Way, including co-chairs of the capital campaign in 2011, Kish said. The hospital also has been supportive of the nonprofit community under Nalli's leadership, she said.
"They made this a better place because they lived here," Kish said.
Nalli said in a prepared statement he is proud of what has been achieved during his 6 1/2 years.
"Porter Health Care System has brought personalized patient-centered care and best-practice, quality medical resources to Northwest Indiana to enhance the community we serve," he said.
Vincent Caponi, executive chairman of the board for St. Vincent Health, said, "As a proven health care executive with vast experience in growth management strategies, improvement plans and demonstrable results in achieving business objectives, we look forward to Jonathan leading the transformation of our business and building on the successes of our ministry."
Nalli was named interim CEO at Porter in May 2007, just one week after the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems wrapped up the purchase of the former county-owned hospital.
He replaced Porter hospital President and CEO Ronald Winger, who said it was time for the longtime local health care provider to have a new leader with a new vision.
Nalli jumped into that role by leading the hospital's search for its new home. He reflected back on that 3 1/2-year challenge during the groundbreaking of the new 238-private bed facility July 21, 2010, by saying that while there were roadblocks, he never doubted the new hospital would become a reality.
He was then on hand during the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 25, 2012, to oversee the intricate transfer of patients from the more than 70-year-old hospital in downtown Valparaiso to the new facility.
The search for a new CEO to replace Nalli will begin immediately, according to Porter Health Care System.
St. Vincent Health, which has no affiliation with Porter Health Care System, is a 22-hospital system and one of the largest employers serving central and southern Indiana.