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Covert-FellowshipMichael H. Covert, FACHE
President & CEO, CHI St. Luke's Health
Senior Vice President, Catholic Health Initiatives

Michael H. Covert, a veteran healthcare executive with wide-ranging experience in all facets of a dynamic, rapidly evolving industry is President and Chief Executive Officer of CHI St. Luke’s Health, where he directs the health system’s six hospitals and oversees a regional strategy that is expected to include growth in neighboring communities. He also serves as a Senior Vice President for Catholic Health Initiatives.

His role underscores the expanding responsibilities of key Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) executives responsible for providing leadership, strategic integration and overall operational management for regional or statewide groups of health facilities that span the continuum of care. Prior to joining CHI St. Luke’s Health, Mr. Covert served as President and CEO of Palomar Health in San Diego.

Mr. Covert boasts a long and diverse career in health care that spans four decades and includes top positions with leading tertiary care facilities, an academic medical center and the Physician Corporation of America, which operated health-maintenance organizations, physician clinics and other healthcare facilities in several states.

Since 2003 at Palomar Health, where he led a $1.5 billion healthcare system with three hospitals, two skilled-nursing facilities, home-health agencies, ambulatory facilities, a large medical foundation and a fundraising organization, among other entities. Palomar, which is now part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, was recognized by Modern Healthcare magazine in 2011, 2012 and 2014, as one of the nation’s top small health systems.

Prior to joining Palomar, Mr. Covert served as President of Washington Hospital Center, Washington, D.C.; and President and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health System, Sarasota, Florida. He also has served as Senior Vice President for Physician Corporation of America in Wichita, Kansas; Executive Director of the Ohio State University Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio; and Executive Vice President and CEO of St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Wichita, Kansas, among other positions in the healthcare field.

Mr. Covert earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master in Health Administration from Washington University School of Business, St. Louis. A past chair of the Association of Hospitals and Health Systems of Florida, he served as a member of the board, executive committee and as chair-elect of the California Hospital Association; and as vice-chair of the board of directors of the University of Arizona Health Network.

As a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), he has served as a Regent for both Florida and California.

wayneKeathley_FinalWayne Keathley
Chief Executive Officer - CHI St. Luke's Health–Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center

Wayne Keathley was appointed President in January 2014. He previously served as President of the Baylor College of Medicine Health Network and was a key member of the team that established the joint venture agreement with Catholic Health Initiatives to create the new health care enterprise.

Mr. Keathley is a nationally recognized leader with over 35 years of experience in healthcare planning, operations, and program development. He led The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City for over nine years as President and Chief Operating Officer and also served as Executive Vice President of Business Development for The Mount Sinai Medical Center which includes the Icahn School of Medicine. During his tenure the hospital enjoyed a remarkable period of growth, outstanding financial performance, and expansion of clinical programs throughout the greater New York communities. He created a hospital program development team that established over 200 practice sites and multiple hospital affiliations and alliances to create the Mount Sinai Health Network. Mr. Keathley also established unique health education and outreach programs for the diverse ethnic populations of New York and created an award-winning diabetes education program to reach patients and families in underserved communities. The diabetes education and outreach program was recognized as a “best practices” program by multiple accreditation and advisory organizations. During his tenure the hospital was recognized as a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence and as a US News Honor Roll Hospital (top 20) for the first time.

Before joining The Mount Sinai Hospital, Wayne previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of St. Peter’s Healthcare Services in Albany, New York, Vice President of Operations at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and as Vice President of Professional Services for The Brooklyn Hospital. His areas of technical competence include systems design, regulatory affairs and risk management, and clinical program development.

Mr. Keathley is actively involved with several international organizations including a role as senior board advisor to Glocal Health Systems (India), Board of Advisors to the Horizons Clinic (The Gambia, West Africa), special advisor and consultant to a not-for-profit healthcare development initiative in Guinea-Bissau. He also serves as senior advisor on strategic operations and program development to the North Shore Health System in New York. Wayne is a frequent speaker at national forums on system design and operations and health policy and has been guest lecturer at Columbia University School of Public Health, the Baruch School of Business Administration (New York), and the Greater New York Hospital Association administrative internship program.

Mr. Keathley holds a Masters of Public Health, Health Administration from the Columbia School of Public Health and the Columbia University School of Business Administration in New York. He is Associate Dean of Health Systems and Assistant Professor of the Baylor College of Medicine.


DebraSimmons_FinalDeborah Simmons
Senior Vice President & Chief Quality Officer - CHI St. Luke's Health

Debora Simmons is considered an expert leader in healthcare quality, patient safety and performance improvement with a history of commitment to the delivery of safe and reliable healthcare by application of evidence-based interventions.

Prior to joining CHI St. Luke’s Health, Ms. Simmons served as Executive Operations Director for The National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision (NCCD) Making in Healthcare at The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics. In this capacity, she was responsible for a $15 million funded nine-university center established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health to address usability and safety of electronic healthcare records under the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARPC)Program. For this work, she was recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with a Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects Grants and Programs Management Award.

In her previous work in quality and safety, she was the Associate Director for the Institute for Healthcare Excellence at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Texas Center of Excellence for Patient Safety Research and Practice, where she lead the first non-punitive, error reporting project with the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners, multiple quality improvement teams, and quality and safety projects throughout M.D. Anderson. She directed the UT Close Call reporting system in 21 hospitals across the country, and received the National Patient Safety Foundation: Stand Up for Patient Safety Management Award. She was also the Clinical Director for the Clinical Safety and Effectiveness course based on the Brent James Intermountain Health course for physician lead quality improvement teams.

Previously, she served at CHI St. Luke’s Health as Supervisor and Nurse Clinician for Cardiology for five years in the early 90s. Since 2005,
Ms. Simmons has served on the United States Pharmacopeia Safe Medications Use Expert Committee. In 2008, she received the Cheers Award from the Institute of Safe Medication Practices for her work in safety. She is a trustee of the Board for the Institute of Safe Medication Practices, a Member of the Texas Board of Nurses Eligibility and Disciplinary committee and a board member of the National Healthcare Diversity Council.

Recently, she was elected to the Texas Department of State Health Services Healthcare Associated Infections/Preventable Adverse Events Advisory panel. She serves as adjunct faculty at The University of Texas School of Biomedical informatics and Texas Woman’s University. Her current research work is in usability of electronic healthcare records and patient safety with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Harvard University School of Dentistry in safety and AHRQ in visualization of data in electronic dashboards.

david_argueta_finalDavid G. Argueta, FACHE
President - CHI St. Luke's Health–The Woodlands & Lakeside Hospitals, Springwoods Village

Mr. Argueta joined the CHI St. Luke’s Health Family in 2014 as Chief Operating Officer for The Woodlands Hospital and was recently named Interim President of The Woodlands and Lakeside hospitals. 

Prior to CHI St. Luke’s Health, he served as Vice President of Operations at Baylor Scott & White–Hillcrest in Waco, Texas, where he was responsible for the development, construction and operation of a: $20 million Regional Cancer Center; $4.5 million Ambulatory Surgery Center; a new Acid Reflux Center. He also led the recruitment of more than 25 new healthcare providers within a 12-month period. 

During his seven-year tenure with Baylor Scott & White, Mr. Argueta reported to the CEO with leadership responsibilities for Oncology Service Line, Plant Operations, Clinical Engineering, Property and Construction Management, Environmental Services, Linen Services, Security, Safety, PBX, Transportation, Physician Recruitment, Senior Health Services and Business Development for the system. He also served as the Regional Director of Support Services for the North Region of the Central Texas Operations Division.

He is president/chair of the Texas Hospital Association Leadership Development Council; member of HOTRAC Board of Directors; and holds memberships with the Heart of Texas Regional Advisory Council and the Medical Group Management Association.

As an experienced healthcare executive, Mr. Argueta is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. The native Texan earned a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and an MBA in Healthcare Administration from the university’s Hankamer School of Business.

RobertHeifner_FinalRobert A. Heifner
President - CHI St. Luke's Health–Sugar Land Hospital

Prior to joining the CHI St. Luke’s Health Family, Mr. Heifner served as CEO of Mainland Medical Center, a 223-bed acute care hospital, where he successfully managed a merger with Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and integrated Medical Staffs and Boards of Trustees under one set of Bylaws and created a Community Advisory Board to strengthen the hospital’s relationship with the community.

During his tenure at the HCA hospital, Mr. Heifner made significant strides in clinical service line development including increased outpatient revenue and inpatient referrals with the development of a new Occupational Medicine Program; opened an Emergency Express Care clinic to relieve the hospital’s ED throughput and an Intermediate Care Unit to relieve ICU congestion and the development of a new Thoracic Surgery program.

Under his leadership, Mainland Medical Center’s operational performance included a 2011 “Top Hospital” designation for excellence in Core Measures and was commended as a “Best Practice” for Emergency Department throughput by The Joint Commission; and the creation of a Rapid Response program resulted in a reduction in Code Blue calls by 52 percent.

Previous positions include Chief Operating Officer and Ethics & Compliance Officer for Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, Texas; and Vice President of Operations at Tulane University Medical Center in Louisiana.

His varied community involvement includes serving on the Board of Directors for the Texas City/LaMarque Chamber of Commerce, Galveston County Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America, Bay Area Council Executive Board of Directors, Texas City ISD Foundation, and Galveston County Health District and a member of the Texas City Rotary Club.

He was a Fellow of American Healthcare Executives and completed a master’s in healthcare administration at Tulane University and received an MBA and a bachelor of science from Louisiana Tech University.

BillSimmons_FinalBill Simmons
Chief Executive Officer - CHI St. Luke's Health–Patients Medical Center

Bill Simmons is the chief executive officer of CHI St. Luke’s Health - Patients Medical Center. With over 30 years in the healthcare field, he has served in positions at nine Texas hospitals ranging from assistant controller to CEO. His CEO roles have included positions at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital for over 14 years as well as Select Specialty Hospital and North Cypress Medical Center. In addition, he held positions of chief financial officer and chief operating officer at four area hospitals as well as director of operations for Triumph Healthcare.

Mr. Simmons received a bachelor of business administration in accounting from Southwest Texas State University. His broad operational background in hospitals and physician relations make him well suited for his role of CEO at CHI St. Luke’s Health - Patients Medical Center. He is also active in the community, serving as a member of several boards, including the Baytown and Pasadena Chambers of Commerce, Baytown Rotary, United Way, and YMCA as well as chairing two Goose Creek Independent School District bond elections.