Each year,  Ingram's, Kansas City' Business Magazine, honors the area's Heroes in Healthcare. Out of this year's 21 honorees, Saint Luke's Health System is proud to have two leaders named to Ingram's 2022 2022 Heroes in Healthcare.

Here are this year's Heroes in Healthcare from Saint Luke's Health System.


Portrait of Melinda Estes, MD
Melinda L. Estes, MD, Saint Luke's Health System President and CEO

Melinda Estes may hail from Kansas City, but her impact in health care reverberates from coast to coast. In January 2020—a time of considerable significance to many providers—the American Hospital Association introduced the Saint Luke’s CEO as chair of its board of Trustees. 

That made her the top elected official for a group with more than 5,000 member hospitals and health systems in the U.S. She’d previously served on the board and its executive committee, and was ranked No. 13 on Modern Healthcare’s prestigious list of 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare, as well as among the 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives.

Amid all the national recognition, it should be lost on no one that Estes oversees the fourth-largest enterprise in the Kansas City region, a health system with 11,000 employees and nearly $8 billion in annual revenue. To those executive duties, she brings the perspective of a hands-on provider—Estes is also a board-certified neurologist and neuropathologist.

She came to Saint Luke’s in 2011, and leads a not-for-profit health system with six hospitals and campuses, nationally recognized programs in cardiovascular medicine, neuroscience, and cancer treatment and research, home care and hospice services, behavioral-health services, and more than 100 physician practices and clinics. 

Read Ingram's full profile on Dr. Estes.

Susie Krug, Saint Luke's East Hospital Chief Nursing Officer

In nursing, a key to providing superior patient care—just one of many—is understanding the role of diagnosis. While no two cancer patients might require identical approaches, it’s much clearer that a cancer patient and a stroke survivor start with different care needs. That’s the way Susie Krug approaches her work, directing nurses at Saint Luke’s East as chief nursing officer.

“There’s a saying that care for the patient is individualized,” Krug says. “I’ve tried to really cater to that—you have to determine what is that value to them. So you learn about them and can address them accordingly.” 

Finding that specific point of connection, she says, is an important first step in establishing a successful nurse-patient relationship.

“Some diseases, organically, are really challenging,” Krug says. “But everybody eats; you can always connect with someone about food. If you’re waiting on stitches, just ask, ‘what’s for dinner at your house tonight?’ If you connect with them, their experience is more enjoyable and can make a complex situation simple.” 

 The job may be complex, she says, but if you break it down and start with simple goals, you can get to a good plan, and simple additions can make it a perfect plan.

“That’s what leadership is to me for the patient population,” Krug says. “We’ve had to do so much of that the past two years as we outlined a new disease, something that had never happened in many careers, then break down how to care for those patients.

Read Ingram's full profile on Krug.

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