Lanky, charismatic, and a rising star in the health-care industry, [Wright] Lassiter could have become just one more executive casualty when he took the job as CEO of the Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland, California, and its flagship, Highland Hospital. Instead, he did what seemed impossible: He turned a shockingly mismanaged urban safety-net hospital system in one of America’s most violent cities into a model for other public hospitals. He trimmed costs without any significant cutback in services — in fact, services have been greatly expanded. A new $668 million hospital building is under construction. Six years on, the center has turned a positive margin every year but the last, when a new auditor required it to set aside more money for pension costs; so far, it is on target to break even this year.