Dr. Tom Witt soon will turn more of his attention to family practice and hospital integration as he steps aside as CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing.

In early February, Dr. Brian Whited will take over the practice leadership position, MCHS announced Tuesday. He is the vice president of operations for Mayo Clinic Health System.

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Witt will continue leading the work of coordinating and integrating the health system's hospitals across southeastern Minnesota, officials said. He also will continue to care for patients in the area.

Witt and Whited were not available for comment Tuesday. David Agerter, M.D., MCHS regional vice president, praised Witt for his leadership and excellent patient care.

"He has led many important initiatives during his tenure, including the construction and launch of the beautiful new medical center in Cannon Falls," Agerter said.

Those initiatives included establishing health care teams designed to ensure continuity of care while reducing costs and providing what Witt called "the right care at the right time at the right price." The transition means nurse practitioners and physician assistants often see patients for less serious issues, such as ear infections, so physicians are free to provide more critical, acute care.

The various initiatives plus bringing the Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing clinics/hospitals under one umbrella earned Witt the 2014 Goodhue County Citizen of the Year award. He also has served on the Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie Board of Trustees, chaired the Minnesota Hospital Association Physician Leadership Council and sat on the Minnesota Medical Association Policy Council.

Witt will transition out of the CEO role by March 1.

"Dr. Whited, a family medicine physician, has extensive leadership experience within the health system and within the southeast Minnesota region," said Bobbie Gostout, M.D., MCHS vice president and the physician leader. "Dr. Whited and Dr. Witt will work closely together to ensure continued strong leadership for the medical practice in Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing."