Editorial

Saint Francis CEO to retire after successful tenure

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Steven C. Bjelich, president and CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare System, will retire Sept. 1, after nearly 19 years.

Set to replace Bjelich, pending approval from the Most Rev. Edward Matthew Rice, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, is Saint Francis' executive vice president and chief operating officer Maryann Reese.

Bjelich has been with Saint Francis since 1999, and the mark he has made will remain after he retires. His accomplishments include a cancer institute and heart hospital, a patient tower with private rooms, the return of obstetrics in 2001, and the development of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, among other achievements.

If fostering good relationships is significant in business, it is especially significant in the health care profession, where life and death hang in the balance.

"Personally, my greatest accomplishment, if you can call it mine," he said, "is the relationships I've built with our physicians, with our employees that have allowed us to grow [our] market share from 40 percent to north of 58 percent market share," adding, "That is huge."

Colleagues give Bjelich high praise for his service.

Don Kaverman, Saint Francis Healthcare System board chairman, called Bjelich's leadership "outstanding." Speaking to the Southeast Missourian, he pointed out that Bjelich "sets the bar high, but he enables the people who work with him to rise up and to meet those expectations."

The Missouri Hospital Association would agree that Bjelich's ability to look ahead, his vision, was an asset for Saint Francis. The MHA gave him its Visionary Leadership Award and the Distinguished Service Award.

Reese seems poised to take on that role if approved. She comes with high praise also. Kaverman called her selection a "no-brainer."

We thank Bjelich and wish him well in his retirement as he enjoys playing golf, traveling and spending time with his family, activities he said he is looking forward to.

"It really has been a blessing to be a part of this organization and a privilege to be a part of it," Bjelich said. "And for that, I'll always be thankful."

So will we. Congratulations.

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