Then-Community Hospital CEO Virg Narbutas speaks during an event celebrating the reopening of century-old facility on May 27, 2021. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

After 13 years with Tenet Health, Lakewood Regional Medical Center CEO John Grah is retiring later this month. The health care provider announced former Community Hospital CEO Virg Narbutas as his successor, effective May 19.

A graduate of UCLA with a bachelor of arts, biology and a master’s degree in health service management, Narbutas was COO at Lakewood from 1990-1994. He has since served as regional CEO of three acute care hospitals and as CEO of long-term acute care hospitals throughout Southern California.

“I am very happy to be back at the hospital where I started my career,” Narbutas said in an email. “Serving the community where I have lived for the past 35 years continues to be my passion and I look forward to advancing the valuable health care services that Lakewood Regional Medical Center provides to our residents.”

Grah assumed the role of CEO at Lakewood Regional in 2016. During his tenure, he successfully led the charge for improved quality and safety of care as well as operational performance that enabled growth, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Bayer said in an email.

Since Grah took over, the hospital achieved stroke service accreditation and recognition from Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services. Grah also led the implementation of an ICU Intensivist Program and to expand cardiovascular services.

For more than two years, Grah “navigated the hospital through COVID-19, maintaining a commitment to excellence throughout the challenging time,” Bayer says.

“As I transition to the next phase of my life, I am blessed in knowing that I have contributed to improving the lives of patients seeking care at my respective organizations,” Grah said in an email of his 37-year health care career. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful teams of dedicated people and have developed so many long-standing relationships with people I now consider family.”

Most recently, Narbutus, a Long Beach resident, served as CEO of the now-defunct Community Hospital. Under the acute-care facility’s final operator, Molina Wu Network, Narbutus served as CEO from spring 2020 to July 2021.

The reason for Narbutus’s departure from Community remains unclear.

The hospital was shuttered for over two years and reopened in January 2021 but permanently closed again 11 months later.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Business Journal.