OAKLAND â€” Bernard J. Tyson, the chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, died in his sleep early Sunday, the company confirmed.
Tyson, who was appointed CEO of the medical group and health care provider in 2013, â€œunexpectedly passed away early today in his sleep,â€� the company said in a statement Sunday afternoon. The cause of Tysonâ€™s death was not disclosed.
Tyson has been with the Oakland-based national health care organization for more than 34 years, serving in roles ranging from hospital administrator to division president, before becoming CEO in 2013. He was appointed chairman of the board in 2014, according to his company biography.
â€œBernard was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him,â€� said Edward Pei, who sits on the companyâ€™s board, in a statement Sunday.
Effective immediately, the company named Gregory A. Adams, Executive Vice President and Group President, as interim Chairman and CEO.
Under Tysonâ€™s leadership, Kaiser Permanente has grown from 9.1 million members and 174,000 employees in 2013 to 12.3 million members and 218,000 employees nationwide. The companyâ€™s annual revenue has grown from $53 billion to $82.8 billion during that time, according to a news release.
In 2017, Tyson was named one of Timeâ€™s 100 Most Influential People for his work in public health. The recognition, written by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, lauded Tyson for focusing on â€œan often overlooked aspect of medicine to the forefront: mental and emotional health.â€�
A number of health care leaders and public officials commented on Tysonâ€™s death Sunday.
â€œHe truly â€˜walked the talkâ€™ in his concern for making health care not just a right, but something that is affordable and centered on the great diversity of patients,â€� said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee in a statement Sunday. â€œHis efforts will have a lasting imprint on California and the nation.â€�
A Bay Area native, Tyson earned a Masterâ€™s degree in health service administration and bachelorâ€™s degree in health service management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Tyson was also a member of the Bay Area Council, a business-oriented public policy organization.
Tyson is survived by his wife, Denise Bradley-Tyson, and three sons; Bernard J. Tyson Jr., Alexander and Charles.
â€œI am heartbroken upon learning of the passing of Bernard Tyson. Bernard dedicated his life to making health care more accessible for our communities.,â€� Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) tweeted Sunday.
Tysonâ€™s death comes just a day before nearly 4,000 of the companyâ€™s mental health workers in California, represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, were expected to begin a five-day strike to protest wait times between appointments for mental health patients and staffing gaps.
Late Sunday afternoon, the union announced it would postpone the strike in light of Tysonâ€™s death, and did not announce a new strike date.
â€œWe offer our condolences to Bernardâ€™s family, friends and colleagues,â€� NUHW President Sal Rosselli said in a statement. â€œOur members dedicate their lives to helping people through tragedy and trauma, and they understood that a strike would not be appropriate during this period of mourning and reflection.â€�