Who owns AdventHealth? The hospital’s ownership explained

AdventHealth hospital in Orlando

In January 2023, AdventHealth hit the headlines after a 76-year-old woman fatally shot her terminally ill 77-year-old husband in an AdventHealth hospital in Daytona Beach, Florida. Chief Jakari Young told reporters that the police believed the couple planned a murder-suicide, but the wife couldn’t go through with it. 

“It’s a tragic and unfortunate incident,” Young said. “It just shows that none of us are immune from the trials and tribulations of life.”

AdventHealth is one of the largest health systems in the United States, operating 50 hospitals, employing around 80,000 staff, and serving millions of patients annually. 

AdventHealth is a non-profit organization owned by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church

AdventHealth was founded as Adventist Health System in 1973 as a non-profit organization by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The AdventHealth website states that the healthcare system dates back to the 1860s. It reads:

“AdventHealth was formally founded in 1973 but traces its roots back to 1866 with a team of Seventh-day Adventist medical pioneers in Battle Creek, Michigan.”

“During a time when many treatments were as harmful as the conditions they attempted to cure, our founders were considered revolutionaries for their belief that preventing disease was as important as treating it.”

Adventist Health System rebranded to AdventHealth in early January 2019. All hospitals formerly under the Adventist Health System umbrella rebranded, except those in Colorado, Illinois, and Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South rebranded to AdventHealth. 

“The new name is anchored in the legacy of our faith in God, the hope we have in Christ, and the ministry of our [Adventist] founders,” Terry Shaw, AHS president and CEO, told Adventist Review. “It also expresses the Advent that brings salvation and healing.”

“Advent Health… ties us so beautifully into the roots of our church,” former Adventist Health board chairman Garry Thurber said. “We began because we had our eye on the Second Coming, and the Second Coming is really where all healing is going to take place. And to tie that into our health system’s name is just beautiful to me.”

AdventHealth said the rebrand didn’t reflect a merger, acquisition, or ownership change. “[It] is a way of unifying all wholly owned AHS care facilities, which will continue to be Seventh-day Adventist institutions when the organization becomes AdventHealth,” Adventist Review writes. 

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church doesn’t profit from its ownership of AdventHealth. As a non-profit organization, AdventHealth isn’t required to pay taxes. However, it is expected to invest additional capital in the surrounding communities. 

CEO Terry Shaw implemented wholesale changes in AdventHospital after his wife’s accident

Terry Shaw
Terry Shaw, President & CEO Of AdventHealth

“After 29 years of marriage, the last words I wanted to hear as a husband were, ‘Your wife has been in a car accident. She’s unconscious in the ER,’” Shaw writes on LinkedIn

Shaw wrote that he was surprised at the obstacles he encountered while navigating his wife’s care. Shaw said it took a frustratingly long time to get into the hospital where his wife, Paula, was admitted – he couldn’t find parking and had to queue in an entry processing line for a while. 

When he got to the hospital floor, a nurse stopped him from seeing his wife, but for a good reason. Shaw writes:

“She said, “Look Mr. Shaw, your wife has been through an awful lot today, and she can’t see you the way you are now. You’re pale and ashen. Take my hand, calm down, and let’s get your color back. Before you walk in to see her, I need you to compose yourself. She’s going to need you to be strong for her.’”

The trials continued after Paula’s discharge: Shaw struggled to book appointments with follow-up specialists despite his connections in the health industry. The experience motivated Shaw to implement service standards critical for providing holistic patient care. 

According to Shaw’s LinkedIn post, AdventHealth employees must: ensure patients and their loved ones are safe; show love to the patients; make it easy for ‘consumers’ to navigate healthcare; collectively shoulder the responsibility of patients. Shaw writes:

“The issues Paula and I faced weren’t due to a problem at one hospital in Florida, but rather they’re indicative of a much larger, farther reaching industry problem. My pet peeve is hearing anyone in my organization say, ‘That’s not my job’. Actually, it’s everybody’s job. I don’t care who you are, including me.”