Saint Luke’s Health System appoints new president and CEO

June 24, 2011

Saint Luke’s Health System has selected a new leader. After a nationwide search, the organization named Melinda L. Estes, M.D., MBA, as its new president and CEO.

Dr. Estes, 58, brings extensive experience leading hospital systems, including Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. (where she is president and CEO) and Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston and Naples, Fla. A board certified neurologist and neuropathologist, Dr. Estes also holds a Master’s degree in business administration from Case Western Reserve University. She will replace current Saint Luke’s Health System President and CEO G. Richard Hastings, who announced in January his plans to retire this summer.

Dr. Estes was selected following an extensive search process. “Mindy impressed the search team with her keen understanding of all aspects of health care, from practicing medicine at the bedside to academic research to hospital administration,” said Thomas W. Wagstaff, chairman of the board of Saint Luke’s Health System.

“As a respected and accomplished leader, she has weathered the varied challenges of a complex industry with integrity and success, and we’re excited about the energy and diverse perspective she brings to Saint Luke’s. Rich provided the organization with strong leadership for more than 35 years, fostering impressive expansion of services and facilities. As we embark on the next era, a leader with both clinical and administrative expertise is the ideal professional to usher Saint Luke’s forward,” Wagstaff added.

The leadership transition will begin with the departure of Hastings on July 31. Chuck Robb, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, will serve as the interim CEO until Dr. Estes can take the reins in September.

“Saint Luke’s Health System is a dynamic system with a long history of serving the community and providing patients with the most advanced health care,” Dr. Estes said. “I am impressed with the vibrant Kansas City area and Saint Luke’s mission, technology and history of innovation. I look forward to building on that foundation, furthering system integration to provide seamless patient care and leading further success,” Dr. Estes said.

In 2003 Dr. Estes was appointed president and chief executive officer of Fletcher Allen Health Care, a $900 million academic medical center serving the state of Vermont and northern New York, where she effectively guided the health care system back to financial health while expanding services, forging alliances and implementing an extensive strategic planning process. Her experience encompasses nearly two decades at The Cleveland Clinic health care system, where she held a variety of positions of progressive responsibility. She served as CEO at Cleveland Clinic Florida from 2001 – 2003. Her career also includes serving as senior vice president of medical affairs and executive vice president of the MetroHealth System in Cleveland.

Dr. Estes’ strong academic and research background includes serving on the faculty as a clinical professor of pathology at University of Vermont College of Medicine, as professor of pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and as associate professor of anatomic pathology and neuropathology at Ohio State University, College of Medicine. She has published numerous book chapters, book and article reviews and abstracts in addition to more than 100 scientific research papers.

“Fletcher Allen Health Care has been extraordinarily fortunate to have Dr. Estes’ leadership for the last eight years,” noted Roger Stone, chair, Fletcher Allen Health Care Board of Trustees. “Her vision and foresight, her unwavering focus on quality and patient care, her ability to recruit and retain strong leaders on her team and her financial competency have been the hallmarks of her success here, and she leaves our organization well-positioned for the future. I am confident that she will bring these same talents to Saint Luke’s.”

Dr. Estes is married to Harold Morris, M.D., a neurologist, and is the mother of two. She is a musician, enjoys hiking and cooking, and is an avid race walker.