Jeff Walker, COO of the James Cancer Hospital, is leaving Ohio State for City of Hope in Los Angeles. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

Jeff Walker, COO of the James Cancer Hospital, is leaving Ohio State, continuing the exodus of high-ranking departures from the Wexner Medical Center, according to an internal announcement sent by the hospital’s interim CEO and director obtained by The Lantern.

Walker is leaving for City of Hope National Medical Center in California where he will act as its senior vice president of transformation development. He joins former James CEO Michael Caliguiri in Los Angeles, who left in November and now acts as the center’s president and physician-in-chief.

Walker is the 10th high-ranking medical center employee to leave Ohio State since January 2017. In May, then-medical center CEO Sheldon Retchin stepped down amid criticism of his leadership and the departures have accelerated since.

Of the 10 known top employees who have left since January 2017, five signed letters critical of Retchin in May, which were sent to University President Michael Drake; six left for West Virginia University’s medical center and as of Walker’s announced departure, two have left or plan to leave for City of Hope.

One signee, John Campo, the medical center’s director of psychiatry and behavioral health, said Ohio State did not adequately address the concerns of the physicians and directors brought to light in the letters.

“I think that the university missed an opportunity to hear what I think were very sincere concerns by the folks who wrote those letters,” Campo, who is leaving for West Virginia at the end of the month, recently told The Lantern. “We were reaching out to [University] President [Michael] Drake and the leadership to say we’re concerned that we’re losing our way.”

Walker’s transition to City of Hope will begin in late February, according to the email, signed by interim CEO of the James Cancer Center William Farrar, and Raphael Pollock, director of the center.

“As the first COO and senior executive director of administration for Ohio State’s cancer program, Jeff built an incredibly strong administrative and operational structure that integrates the program’s research and clinical missions,” the email read.

“Further, with Jeff’s leadership The James has had record performance nationally both from the financial and patient-satisfaction perspectives. It is largely because of his contributions that Ohio State has one of the nation’s most elite cancer programs.”

Kris Kipp, the executive director of patient services and chief nursing officer, will assume Walker’s role at the cancer hospital. Nancy Single, director of clinical research, and Christine Scarcello, director of research operations, will co-lead the cancer center’s administration.

In 2015, Walker was appointed to two prominent national roles, becoming the treasurer of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and earning a spot on the board of directors for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Walker had an annual base pay of $556,692 in 2016, and he received a bonus of $102,950 to bring his total compensation to $647,342.