John W. Bluford III will retire July 18 as CEO of Truman Medical Centers

John W. Bluford III said Friday that he will retire July 18 from the chief executive post at Truman Medical Centers.

Bluford, who turns 65 on May 1, has been at Truman since 1999. During that time he has earned national acclaim for hospital management and community health initiatives.

He also has taken on a variety of civic duties, including serving a year as chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The hospital system’s board of directors said it is undertaking an internal, and possibly broader, search for Bluford’s successor. A succession plan has been in place, designed to help the eventual transition, and the intent is to have a new CEO in place before Bluford leaves.

“We have a robust leadership team here,” Bluford said. “We have a number of talented people who could fit the bill, as far as I’m concerned. That certainly adds to the calmness I feel.”

Board chairman Peggy Dunn applauded Bluford for his “unwavering vision and extraordinary commitment” to Truman.

Bluford said he intends to remain in Kansas City and stay active on local and national boards.

Last year he established the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute, which he plans to continue supporting. And he intends to stay involved with the grocery store that Truman is helping develop at 27th and Troost. Fundraising for building the store continues.

During his tenure, Bluford earned several prestigious national awards for hospital management. He is recognized for leading not-for-profit Truman as it increased total annual net revenue by $283 million and invested more than $400 million in capital improvements and technology.

Improvements under his watch included major enhancements to Truman’s cardiology, radiology, emergency, diabetes and surgical operating facilities on Hospital Hill. At its Lakewood hospital, improvements included a new outpatient surgery center, additional inpatient beds and a new emergency department and birthing center.

Bluford, who in 2011 served as chairman of the American Hospital Association, has been ranked as one of the most influential people in health care by Modern Healthcare magazine and Becker’s Hospital Review. He also has served as chairman of the National Association of Public Hospitals and the Missouri Hospital Association.

Bluford said he has worked hardest to “change the culture” at Truman to “become more competitive, customer service oriented and more innovative.”

Under his leadership, Truman was recognized by the University Health System Consortium as a top five academic medical center in the United States. The hospital also ranks in the top 2 percent of hospitals nationally for achieving a high rate of information technology implementation.

Bluford said he is proud to have established the TMC Corporate Academy to train employees for advancement. Other accomplishments include creating the Healing Arts Gallery, which displays original artwork throughout the hospital, and launching a “mobile market” that brings healthy foods to urban neighborhoods that are underserved by supermarkets.