Henkel to retire as head of Ascension Healthcare; Maryland to succeed him

February 1, 2017
Fr. Holtschneider

Robert J. Henkel plans to retire June 30 as executive vice president of St. Louis-based Ascension and president and chief executive of the system's Ascension Healthcare division. Ascension executive Patricia A. Maryland will succeed him.

Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider was named executive vice president of Ascension to oversee two Ascension subsidiaries. He will step down as president of Chicago's DePaul University and as Ascension board chair. Maryland and Fr. Holtschneider will assume their new posts July 1.

In a press release announcing the changes, Ascension President and Chief Executive Anthony R. Tersigni called Henkel "one of the most influential and important leaders of Ascension and the entire health care industry." Henkel has worked in Catholic health care for more than 20 years.

Maryland has been Ascension Healthcare's president of health care operations and chief operating officer since 2013. She'll retain that title and those responsibilities after she replaces Henkel this summer as an executive vice president of Ascension and president and chief executive of Ascension Healthcare. Tersigni said in the press release that Ascension is "blessed to have a leader of the caliber and strength" of Maryland.

Henkel, 63, began his executive career in the health care ministry in 1992 when he joined DePaul Health Center in St. Louis, which was part of St. Louis' Daughters of Charity National Health System at the time. SSM Health of St. Louis acquired DePaul in 1995. Henkel served in executive leadership roles at other health care facilities outside of the Catholic health ministry from late 1995 to late 1998 before accepting a leadership post with the Daughters of Charity National Health System.

In 1999, the Daughters of Charity system joined with the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System to form what was then Ascension Health and what is now Ascension. Henkel, who has a master's degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, headed one of the new system's operating groups and helped to guide Ascension Health's evolution, according to the release. In 2004, Henkel became president of Ascension Health's health care operations and chief operating officer. In 2012, when the system created the "Ascension" parent company, Henkel assumed the top executive role for the system's health care division, Ascension Healthcare, which includes 141 hospitals and 2,500 other acute care sites.

Henkel is CHA's board chair. He also chairs the American Hospital Association's Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities Task Force.

In retirement, Henkel plans to be a consultant in the Ascension Consulting Network. Other retired executives from the health system will join that new Ascension subsidiary "to offer their gifts and talents to serve the Catholic health ministry in various capacities," according to the Ascension news release.

Maryland worked in executive roles at several Midwestern hospitals — including as president of Detroit's Sinai-Grace Hospital — before joining Ascension's St. Vincent Health in Indianapolis in 2003. There, she was president of St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital and executive vice president and regional chief operating officer of its parent St. Vincent Health. She was instrumental in creating six clinical centers of excellence, enhancing the system's pediatric subspecialty offerings and overseeing improvements that garnered rating agency recognition.

She was Ascension's Michigan ministry market leader beginning in 2007 and in 2008 also became president and chief executive of St. John Providence Health System in Warren, Mich. She then took an executive post at the system's St. Louis headquarters. Maryland has a master's degree in biostatistics from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate of public health from the University of Pittsburgh.

Modern Healthcare magazine named her one of the "Top 25 Women in Healthcare" in 2015.

Fr. Holtschneider, 55, is leaving academia June 30 to oversee Ascension Information Services and the Ascension Ministry Service Center. He'll also oversee Ascension's national strategy and advocacy functions.

Fr. Holtschneider, who holds a doctorate in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University, headed DePaul University for 13 years. According to Ascension, he helped increase the university's national reputation and improve its finances. He oversaw extensive facility improvements.

Fr. Holtschneider, a Vincentian priest, served on the Ascension Health board from 2009 to 2012, when he transitioned to the board of the new Ascension parent company, which he chairs. He will leave that board when he becomes executive vice president, and a new board chair will be named.


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