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Shining the Spotlight on St. Luke's Change Agents

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
June 11, 2012

As we prepare to celebrate the sixth anniversary of our System near the end of this month, I want to recognize those leaders who were here before me and have done so much toward our transformation. Since there are so many great team members to recognize, I’m doing a three-part acknowledgement. Parts two and three will be posted next week and two weeks from now.

Many of these executives were with St. Luke’s before we were a System. In December, I wrote a blog piece introducing you to newer members of our leadership team. Each of our leaders, be they newer arrivals or our St. Luke’s stalwarts, plays a critical role in the ongoing development of our System and in the achievement of our vision. They are trusted colleagues and critical members of my leadership team. 

In the upcoming months, each of these leaders will use this space to share their perspectives of where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed. Today, I want to share with you some thoughts as to why I value these folks so highly. 

Gary Fletcher

Vice President and System Chief Operating Officer

Gary started with St. Luke’s 25 years ago, coming to us from Montana.   

When I arrived three years ago, Gary was the CEO of St. Luke’s Treasure Valley.  I promoted him to be our first System chief operating officer, and Chris Roth was promoted from Treasure Valley chief operating officer to head things up in the Treasure Valley. 

I have watched Gary interact with employees. His sincerity, caring, compassion, enthusiasm, passion, and commitment are always very evident. His ability to engage employees is exceptional. Gary is one of the most gifted health care leaders I have ever had the chance to know and work with.    

Gary’s challenge is to streamline our operations, promote optimization of services as a System, drive efficiency gains, put together the optimal operating structure, and optimize functions throughout the System.  You’ll get the chance to learn more about the areas Gary is focusing on and his perspectives in his upcoming guest blog piece.

Jeff Taylor

Vice President and System Chief Financial Officer

Jeff started with St. Luke’s 18 years ago, coming to us from Deloitte where he worked as a senior manager in the organization’s audit practice. 

Jeff has much broader responsibilities than the typical chief financial officer, including operational finance, managed care, and health information. 

Further, many CFOs are not comfortable dealing with physicians. Jeff certainly is, and has been instrumental to all of our physician initiatives and relationships. He is significantly involved in every aspect of our senior leadership: strategy, operations, compliance, finance, health information management, and billing and collections. 

Critical things Jeff is working on include our payor strategy, our financing plan and structure so that we can continue to make the investments we anticipate needing to make over the upcoming 10 years, and the optimization of our revenue cycle functions with the conversion to myStLuke’s. You’ll hear more from Jeff when he writes his blog entry.

Maureen O’Keeffe

Vice President, Human Resources

 first met Maureen when I was interviewing for my position. Maureen has been with St. Luke’s for 15 years and was in strategic planning before becoming our senior HR leader. She was one of the first faces of the organization for me, and she represents us extraordinarily well. 

Maureen’s work is critical to our vision. She has helped us develop a best-practice search process that has allowed us to recruit some of the finest hospital CEOs in the country, to Magic Valley (Jim Angle), Wood River (Cody Langbehn), and McCall (Mike Fenello).   

I have charged Maureen with integrating human resources structures and functions across the System, developing a world-class organizational development function, and designing programs to develop physician leaders. You’ll learn more when Maureen’s guest blog entry is posted.

John Kee

Vice President, Physician Services

Few leaders have contributed as much to making St. Luke’s Health System what it is than John Kee. John joined the System six years ago, when the integration of St. Luke’s Magic Valley launched the larger entity. 

Having served as the CEO of the Twin Falls County Hospital, John was key to the very creation of our System. Since then, he has overseen the incredible growth of our physician network, a hugely significant component of our success. When I first looked at St. Luke’s, it was the tremendous physician relationships that factored heavily in my decision to take the job. 

Shortly after I got here, I needed John to take over in Wood River as interim CEO and to help through a very difficult time. I remember meeting with him and explaining what I needed him to do, recognizing that this would be a significant imposition on him and his family.

I didn’t even have to finish before he accepted leadership responsibility and demonstrated that he would do whatever the organization needed him to do. His commitment and dedication were amazing. And not only did he do an outstanding job in that interim role, but he continued oversight of Physician Services. I look forward to sharing his perspectives here later this summer.

Christy Neuhoff

Vice President and General Counsel

Christy came to St. Luke’s from Shands HealthCare in Florida almost four years ago. When I arrived, Christy had prepared a plan to address the legal needs of this growing organization through development of a more robust internal legal department and a solid compliance department.  I could see that her areas were woefully understaffed for St. Luke’s size. 

I told Christy that I thought she should move ahead with plans to beef up her legal and compliance team, and I didn’t have to ask twice. She went out and recruited outstanding associate general counsels and a first-rate compliance officer.

That has resulted in faster turnaround for legal review, lower costs (because of the decrease in more expensive outside legal consulting services), and a more comprehensive approach to compliance.  I now feel that we have the finest in-house legal department in the country. 

Christy is also a trusted adviser to me on some of the most challenging issues that face our System. Her wisdom, pragmatism, and comfort with rolling up her sleeves and sitting down with management and physicians to work through problems and issues are unparalleled.

Christy's responsibilities include governance across our System and establishment of the legal entities necessary for our transformation to accountable care. I look forward to reading about her perspectives.

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.