Memorial Hermann CEO steps down after one year on job

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HOUSTON — The Memorial Hermann Health System has lost its CEO after hiring the current lead only a year ago, officials announced Monday in a news release. Dr. Benjamin K. Chu is stepping down to pursue his passion in health and public policy, the release said.

Following an extensive nationwide search that included both internal and external candidates, Chu officially took on the role as CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System in June 2016.

Officials said Charles “Chuck” D. Stokes,” the hospital’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, will be acting as interim president and CEO until a replacement is found.

“I have admired Memorial Hermann from afar for many years, and I was incredibly honored to join this prestigious organization,” Chu said. “It has been a privilege to have led one of the nation’s largest and most successful health systems – one that advocates for improved access to safe, high-quality care.”

In 2008, Stokes joined Memorial Hermann as COO and under his leadership the organization has attained unprecedented successes in patient safety, high-quality care and operational excellence. Throughout his 40 years as a healthcare executive, Stokes has achieved extensive experience and success in service line enhancement, quality and patient safety improvement, leadership development, employee engagement, and physician collaboration.

Officials said Chu played an active role in the advancement and progress of the medical community serving as Board Chair for the Commonwealth Fund in New York and a member of the Advisory Committee to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He most recently served as Chair of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees which earned him a national profile in health policy.

“As a physician and longtime public policy advocate, Dr. Chu plans to continue his mission to enhance access to high-quality care and improve the overall health of our population,” Memorial Hermann Health System Board Chair Deborah M. Cannon said . “With the current state of the healthcare industry, I can think of no better time for a champion like Dr. Chu to help lead public policy efforts. We thank him for his service and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. In the interim, we are confident Chuck will fill the role seamlessly.”

Stokes, a registered nurse, was recently named among the Top 25 COO’s in medicine by Modern Healthcare, and was instrumental in helping Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital receive the 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence. In addition to his role at Memorial Hermann, Stokes is the current Chairman of the Board of Governors for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), an organization of more than 48,000 healthcare executives working together to improve care delivery and population health.

“I am appreciative of the Board’s confidence in my ability to lead our organization through this change,” Stokes said. “During this transition period, I am committed to reinforcing and advancing Memorial Hermann’s unwavering commitment to patient safety, quality, and high reliability.”

Stokes completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and later earned a master’s degree in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.