Melinda L. Estes, MD
President and CEO
Saint Luke’s Health System
Melinda L. Estes, MD has served as President and CEO of Saint Luke’s Health System since September 2011. A board-certified neurologist and neuropathologist, Dr. Estes oversees the operations of Saint Luke’s, the region’s only locally owned, nonprofit, faith-based, aligned health system, which includes 14 hospitals and campuses; renowned heart, neuroscience, cancer, and rehabilitation institutes; home care and hospice; behavioral health care; more than 100 physician practices and retail clinics; senior living communities, and more.
Prior to joining Saint Luke’s, Dr. Estes was president and CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont (now The University of Vermont Health Network). Before that, she served as chief medical officer and then CEO of Cleveland Clinic Florida. In Cleveland, Ohio, she was associate chief of staff at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and executive vice president and chief of staff for the MetroHealth System. Prior to administrative leadership roles, she was a practicing neurologist and neuropathologist.
Dr. Estes earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, where she also completed her neurology residency. She then completed a neuropathology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic and special training in pediatric neuropathology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also earned an MBA from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.
In 2020, she served as chair of the Board of Trustees for the American Hospital Association (AHA). As the top elected official of the national organization that represents more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems in the U.S., Dr. Estes helped address the many important ongoing issues facing American health care, especially COVID-19 strategies for hospitals and health systems nationwide. She served as advocate and spokesperson for the Association and its critical mission of COVID-19 prevention and mitigation.
Dr. Estes also led a task force with the crucial objective of developing a roadmap for hospitals to reach a new balance of normal following the pandemic. Under Dr. Estes’ leadership, the comprehensive COVID-19 Pathways to Recovery resource was born.
Before being selected as chair-elect designate in July 2018 by the AHA Board of Trustees, Dr. Estes served on the organization’s board and on its executive committee.
She has also served on the board of the Council of Teaching Hospitals of the American Association of Medical Colleges, the board of directors of the University Health System Consortium, the American Hospital Association’s Metropolitan Health Council, the Committee on Health Professionals, and the Regional Policy Board. She was chair of the board of the Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems and is a member of the board of the Missouri Hospital Association.
In 2020, Modern Healthcare included Dr. Estes on its prestigious lists of “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” and “50 Most Influential Clinical Executives.” Her many honors and recognitions also include the 2018 and 2019 Power 100, a guide to the most powerful people in the Kansas City business community, as well as Ingram's “2022 Healthcare Heroes of Kansas City,” in the Lifetime Service category. In 2021, she received the Special Achievement Alumni Award from Cleveland Clinic, one of four presented annually. Since 2012, she has consistently been named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s lists of leaders to know, including “Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know” and “Physician Leaders of Hospitals and Health Systems.”
Dr. Estes is a regular speaker at regional, national, and international health care conferences and events. She’s also a guest columnist, most recently featured in the March 2022 issue of CEO Circle, the monthly membership newsletter for the American College of Healthcare Executives.