Dr. Robert Pretzlaff moving to be closer to family, says he couldn’t pass up ‘really exciting’ opportunity
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital will be looking for a new chief medical officer after Dr. Robert Pretzlaff submitted his resignation this week.
The news comes less than three years after Pretzlaff was hired as the hospital’s vice president and CMO in May 2021. He is set to relocate to northern California after accepting a job as the CMO of two health care facilities in Lodi and Stockton, he told The Signal in a phone interview on Thursday.
A search for a new CMO is underway, according to a statement from the hospital thanking Pretzlaff for his time at Henry Mayo. He is scheduled to continue working at the hospital through next week.
“Dr. Pretzlaff’s efforts were instrumental as we navigated various COVID-19 regulations, and especially in enhancing our quality and infection prevention programs,” the statement reads. “We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Pretzlaff said that there are two reasons for his departure: to be closer to his family, which he said is always a top priority, and accepting a job that was “really exciting.”
“I’ve got significant family up north,” Pretzlaff said. “Currently, I’ve got a daughter who lives and works in Sacramento and a son at UC Santa Cruz. So, family is a part of it, and the opportunity was a part of it as well. I’ll be chief medical officer over two hospitals, both of which have significant growth possibilities, and that’s really exciting to me.”
While he spent just under three years in the Santa Clarita Valley, Pretzlaff said he enjoyed his time in the area, both on the job and off of it. He and his wife are taking dance classes, one of the things they will miss doing along with the abundance of live music.
“Henry Mayo is a wonderful asset to the community,” Pretzlaff said. “During my time here, we were able to launch our primary care office, we improved quality quite significantly. More than that, the people you work with, and the people here have just been fantastic to me. And my wife and I have very much loved being in L.A. And I think one of the things we’re going to miss most is the opportunity to do things.”
Pretzlaff said coming into the role in the middle of the pandemic was a struggle in its own right, but the post-pandemic work is what he is most proud of. He referenced how tired people were following the pandemic and the downsizing that came with it, but through it all, the hospital was able to grow.
“We’ve continued to focus on growth,” Pretzlaff said. “Growing out our primary care, expanding our surgical services, expanding the programs within the hospital to include things like our TAVR program. So, we never lost sight of trying to do more.”
TAVR is Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, a “cutting-edge minimally invasive procedure (usually percutaneous) to replace narrowed aortic valves that fail to properly open,” according to an August 2021 Henry Mayo news release announcing the program. Aortic stenosis is the most common type of heart disease in the elderly, according to the release.
The challenge for whomever takes over the role of CMO at Henry Mayo is to improve efficiency, Pretzlaff said. With the hospital being the only one in the SCV, Pretzlaff said it is vital that it operates adequately for the approximately 300,000 people who call the area home.
“It is really about getting the most out of what we have in order to continue to provide for the community,” Pretzlaff said. “The things that we provide … you need that within the community. You need that emergency room within the community. So it’s vital that Henry Mayo remain and that Henry Mayo remain strong.”
Pretzlaff had previously served as president of the Dignity Health Medical Group in Nevada and as the CMO for Lumeris, a St. Louis-based health care consulting firm.
This is the second major structural change for Henry Mayo in the past year after the hospital moved on from longtime CEO Roger Seaver following his retirement in May. Kevin Klockenga was announced as Seaver’s replacement in February 2023.