Norman Fixel Institute names chief operating officer

By Anna Shavers

Tara Hearns
Tara Hearns, MHA, FACHE

The Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health names Tara Hearns, MHA, FACHE, the previous oversight leader for neurosciences at the University of Michigan Health, as its new chief operating officer. 

As the new COO for the Norman Fixel Institute, Hearns will provide strategic direction, oversight and manage day-to-day operations.

“Tara joining the Fixel Institute from the University of Michigan as our new COO is a game-changer,” said Michael Okun, M.D., executive director of the Fixel Institute and professor of neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “She brings innovation, experience and vision to our team. She is passionate about impacting lives.” 

Home to clinicians and researchers at UF Health, the Fixel Institute opened in July 2019 to care and treat complex neurological diseases and conditions like Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and other neurological diseases. Using a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to care, patients at the Fixel Institute receive care across a variety of specialties, all in one location.

Hearns will join Dr. Okun, who recently announced he will be stepping down as chair of neurology to focus more exclusively on expanding and building out the new Fixel Institute Campus on Williston Road.

“Tara, along with Dr. Okun, will lead the nationally known Fixel Institute to new heights as an iconic health research facility that can become a household name similar to Sloane-Kettering or MD Anderson,” said Michael Jaffee, M.D., professor and newly appointed chair for the department of neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Hearns comes to the new COO role with significant experience in health care administration, university organization and program management. In her previous roles, Hearns has overseen operational and strategic planning, care delivery, business development, patient satisfaction, regulatory compliance and donor engagement. 

“I am truly inspired by UF Health’s commitment to advancing the innovative technology and research that will be necessary to establish the organization as the leading destination for patients with neurodegenerative diseases,” Hearns said. “I am excited for the opportunity to partner with the institute’s clinicians, staff, learners and leaders, and I look forward to contributing to the continued success of the team.”

Before joining the University of Michigan, Hearns was director of anesthesiology, pain management and perioperative medicine services at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich., where she oversaw administrative and operational efforts, and expanded revenues by $30M+ annually with new patient care locations. She also served as the director of operations, associate administrator and chief of staff at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

Hearns earned her MHA in strategic management from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and two bachelor degrees in sociology and Spanish from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.