Monday, November 18, 2019
St. Luke’s Successor Primed to Build on Success of Retiring CEO
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Dr. David Pate leads 14,000 employees statewide, including those at St. Luke’s Wood River.
 
Friday, November 8, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Dr. David Pate, who made St. Luke’s Health System one of the top 15 health care systems in the nation for quality and safety, announced Wednesday evening that he would retire at the end of January 2020.

He will be succeeded by Chris Roth, St. Luke’s senior vice president and chief operating officer. The two will work together over the next three months to construct a smooth transition.

Roth joined St. Luke’s in early 2007 when the organization had been a health system for less than six months, coming from executive positions with Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle and Ochsner Health System in New Orleans.

 
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Chris Roth will start as Dr. David Pate’s successor in February.
 

As vice president and chief operating officer for the Treasure Valley region, he guided development and municipal approval of St. Luke’s Boise master campus plan and helped architect the integration of  multiple clinics, practices and hospitals, including what are now  St. Luke’s Elmore and St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital

“Chris is a terrific leader, a strong relationship builder and someone who is deeply knowledgeable of St. Luke’s and the forces that impact health care,” said St. Luke’s Health System Board of Directors Chairman Rich Raimondi.

Pate, an internist and attorney, guided Idaho’s leading health-care organization and the state’s largest private employer during a time of unprecedented change in health care. When he took the helm of St. Luke’s as its president and CEO in August 2009, Magic Valley-St. Luke’s was under construction and hospitals in Jerome, Nampa and elsewhere had yet to come aboard.

Pate, who came from executive roles at Texas Medical Center in Houston, immediately set about getting all of St. Luke’s doctors and nurses, including those at St. Luke’s Wood River, following best practices protocol to achieve best patient outcomes.

One of the things he did was to examine how St. Luke’s might cut the infection rate in those receiving knee and hip replacements from 1.1 percent to zero. To do that, he went out of the health care system, enlisting engineers at Micron and Boise State University.

The collaboration led to new ways of preparing the skin for surgery and new procedures to keep particles from contaminating open wounds. In the past two years, Pate said, 51 recipients of hip and knee replacements are alive who would statistically have died had the new measures not been put in place. In addition, patients were able to avoid potential disability and $100,000 in subsequent care that might have ensued had they become infected.

Few hospitals have followed suit to date, even though many have an infection rate of 2 percent, Pate said.

“The heath care industry is slow to react—it takes 15 years from the time new evidence comes out until it’s widely adopted,” he said. “The American health care system is fragmented, with most hospitals operating independently of one another—that’s why you see so many different practices being followed. We try to have everyone on the same page in our system.”

In addition to implementing one of the first virtual care centers in the nation, Pate also led the transformation of St. Luke’s business model from fee-for-service. That transformation cuts out unnecessary procedures that drive up health care costs, focusing on what’s best for the patient rather than the hospital’s bottom line.

 Nearly a third of St. Luke’s business now represents the organization’s full accountability for patients’ outcomes.

Pate said St. Luke’s success has been a result of employees’ collective effort.

“The depth of talent we have in our organization is remarkable and that depth will carry St. Luke’s forward. We have among the best leaders in health care that I have ever been privileged to work with,” he said.

Pate said he and his wife plan to continue to live in Idaho.

“The first thing I want to do is sleep in. Second, I will enjoy a whole stack of books that have nothing to do with health care. I may continue to write my blog and write about health care policies and issues. and I plan to serve on a few boards and teach health law at the University of Idaho.”

Pate’s advice to his successor? Never be complacent. Always remain focused on quality. And continue to focus on making health care affordable.

“I’m excited about the future,” he said. “We’ve accomplished much in the past 10 years, and I’m sure we’re going to do more in the next 10 years.”

St. Luke’s, established in 1902, boasts eight hospitals, St. Luke’s Children’s, a nationally recognized cancer center and more than 200 clinics throughout southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. Idaho’s only not-for-profit health system, it employs more than 14,000 people.

 

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