Spencer Johnson, who led the Michigan Health & Hospital Association for more than 30 years and was a champion for hospitals and patients, died Nov. 7. He was 76. 
Johnson became CEO of MHHA in 1985. Throughout his tenure, he provided leadership on a number of hospital-based quality improvement initiatives, including creating the MHHA Keystone Center for Patient and Quality and the MHHA patient safety organization.
He also helped improve community health through initiatives like the mercury thermometer exchange, Harvest Gathering campaign to feed the state’s neediest residents, and statewide campaigns to eliminate hospital campus smoking and improve hospital food service.
In addition, Johnson was recognized for creating a corporate culture for attracting and retaining staff at MHHA and forging a path for other hospital associations in creating public policy impact.
“Spence was a first class colleague, a good friend and a real mentor,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “He helped establish Michigan as a national leader in patient safety and quality, and his dedication paved the way for other state associations to follow in Michigan’s footsteps. Patients across Michigan are safer today because of Spence Johnson’s leadership and integrity. The entire AHA family extends our condolences to his wife Julianne, children and grandchildren.”
Johnson received the AHA Award of Honor in 2015, which is given to individuals or organizations in recognition of exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of our nation through leadership on major health policy or social initiatives. He also received the AHA Board of Trustees Award in 2001 for health policy development and service on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
Before his tenure at MHHA, Johnson was executive vice president of the Hospital Association of New York State. Prior to that, he was involved in the development of federal health policy and legislation as associate director of the Domestic Council at the White House during the Ford Administration and as a staff member of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

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