28 March 2019

After a long and impressive career in the Dutch national government, which culminated in his position as secretary-general at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), Leon van Halder (1955) entered Radboud university medical center on 1 April 2015 to become the new chair of our Executive Board. Starting from that very day, he gave color to our organization both as a strong and strategic manager and as an involved and enthusiastic individual.

Leon believed in our mission and in everyone’s capability to realize this mission. Under his inspirational leadership, Radboud university medical center continued to develop as a forerunner in the healthcare of the future with an emphasis on person-centered care, innovation and collaboration in networks. This resulted in a major shift at our medical center, that affected all of us. The right care, at the right moment and at the right location: he advocated for that by, for example, meeting with network partners and colleagues. He truly enjoyed this. And as a result, many came to know Leon as an amiable connector and motivator. Collaborative agreements have now successfully been made with most of the hospitals in the region, thus initiating the movement towards an academic medical network. Leon propagated this idea every day. He simultaneously set the agenda with politicians and insurers for suitable network financing. And we have also taken major steps together in the areas of personal care and innovation.
 
Leon was active outside of Radboud university medical center as well. He was chair of the Van Halder Committee for the future care for elderly persons living at home (Ministry VWS) and chair of the Integrity in Public Broadcasting Committee. In addition, he was active in the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), the umbrella organization of all of the university medical centers in this country. Under his leadership, a collective labor agreement was drawn up with remuneration that was in line with the market for the more than 70,000 employees. At the negotiation table, he supported the interests of employees in the areas of work pressure and generation policy. These are now important themes at Radboud university medical center.
 
“Are we taking care of one another?” This was one of his memorable expressions. It was extremely important to him to help and look out for one another in a world of ambition and daily hard work. That resulted, among other things, in the Healthy Professionals program, which has now spread throughout the organization and helps employees to be more aware of balance and health.
 
In May of 2017 Leon announced that he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and that he would have to step down temporarily so that he could fully concentrate on his health. Despite the fact that he lived in The Hague, he deliberately chose to be treated at Radboud university medical center, where he was very satisfied with his care. For months, he worked with astonishing self-discipline on his health, his physical condition and his emotional state. In October of 2017, Leon returned to his post as chair of our Executive Board and continued his work with undiminished ambition and energy.
 
Until early March. On 11 March of this year he announced that he would resign from his position. In his message to all of the employees he wrote: “This is a difficult decision for me. My work really means a lot to me. I think that Radboud university medical center is an astounding organization. The developments and challenges in healthcare and at Radboud university medical center, which I was allowed to work on together with you, have continued to give me so much energy, satisfaction and enjoyment. I would have liked to have stayed and enjoyed this work longer.” We would have liked to have had him with us much longer too. It was a great pleasure and an honor to work with Leon. We will miss him tremendously.
 
Leon van Halder passed away on Wednesday 27 March. His death occurred unexpectedly sudden and has deeply affected all of us. We wish his wife, his daughters and his loved ones strength in coping with this great loss.
 
On behalf of the Supervisory Board and the Executive Board,
 
Loek Hermans and Paul Smits
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