Health care is a vital industry in the greater Valley region. The region is home to more than 20 full-service hospitals, and scores of clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, medical offices, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing homes and companies that provide home health care and other services. In this issue, we’ve devoted significant coverage to the industry. Our List of the region’s Largest Hospitals (pages 26, 27, 28 and 32) is packed with data, including information on the number of employed physicians, registered nurses and full-time employees in the Valley region. Don’t miss our front-page story, which offers a full analysis of the hospital employment data, provided by the hospitals themselves. Hospitals are major employers in the Valley region, and with all the national media attention about hospitals battling doctor and nurse shortages, I was quite surprised to learn that our facilities are cutting jobs. Of those 16 Valley area hospitals that reported hospital employment data to the Business Journal this year and last year, a dozen reported a total combined loss of 3,323 hospital jobs while four hospitals added a total of 762 hospital positions. To be sure, hospitals aren’t immune to economic challenges. They must look for efficiencies especially as Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursements continue to decline and they are forced to comply with health care reform mandates, which have the potential to raise administrative and other costs. And like any business, they’re facing more pressure to reduce waste and operate on leaner budgets. One wonders if patient care and satisfaction is impacted when there are fewer medical guardians making rounds. Although, efforts to better coordinate patient care, coupled with advancements in technology, are improving the quality and efficiency of care. In this issue, the Special Report focuses on innovators in a changing industry. We look at 10 Valley area executives and medical personnel who are shaping our dynamic health care industry. These are the fearless change agents shaping health care reform, the visionaries who see a need in our community and find a way to fill it, the early adopters of medical technology and techniques. We used a variety of methods to identify those who are profiled in this section. We reached out to knowledgeable sources who know the health care industry in the greater San Fernando Valley region, asked for recommendations from all major hospitals in our coverage area and reached back in our archives to identify people who are making important contributions. There was no formal nomination process or survey to choose these people, so there was some subjectivity to our choices. But after interviewing the candidates and people who know them, we feel comfortable that the group profiled here represents among the most innovative leaders of health care in our region. We hope you agree.