HealthSearch Partners Seeks COO for Catholic Health Initiative Texas

November 29, 2018 – HealthSearch Partners, a recruitment firm formed earlier this year, has been selected to find a chief operating officer for Catholic Health Initiative’s (CHI) Texas market. Leading the assignment is Keith C. Southerland, HealthSearch board chair; Ed Fry, president and CEO; and Laura A. Conley, vice president. The search firm focuses on securing transformational leadership for mission-minded healthcare organizations.

The COO of the Houston-based CHI Texas Division will oversee three markets: CHI St. Luke’s Health, including the Texas Heart Institute; CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial; and CHI St Joseph Health. The COO will be responsible for 16 hospitals, three long-term care facilities, nine emergency centers, four urgent care units, diagnostic and treatment center and several medical group practices. The regional health system generated more than $2 billion in operating revenue in the 2018 fiscal year.

Catholic Health Initiatives, headquartered in Englewood, CO, is one of the nation’s largest health systems. Formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, CHI operates in 19 states and comprises 105 hospitals, including four academic health centers and major teaching hospitals, and 30 critical-access facilities; community health-services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care.

Veteran Recruiters

In fiscal year 2018, CHI provided more than $1.14 billion in financial assistance and community benefit for programs and services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. Financial assistance and community benefit totaled approximately $2.1 billion with the inclusion of the unpaid costs of Medicare. The health system, which generated operating revenues of $15 billion in fiscal year 2018, has total assets of approximately $20.5 billion.

Mr. Southerland has over three decades experience conducting executive searches for healthcare provider organizations. He has been involved in more than 900 searches for prominent non-profit multi-hospital health systems, professional associations, pediatric health systems, public hospitals, academic medical centers and managed care organizations. His firm has placed CEOs at Ardmore Institute of Health, St. Joseph’s Healthcare System and El Paso Children’s Hospital, among other healthcare organizations.


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Since 1990, Mr. Fry has assisted faith-based organization boards and executive teams in securing mission-minded leaders. His firm FaithSearch Partners has partnered with Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Baylor University Medical Center, Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, Ascension / Providence Health Network, Adventist HealthCare and Covenant Health System, among others. The firm has placed top HR executives at Adventist Health System and Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas.

Ms. Conley, in the first half of her career, worked for some of the leading pediatric hospitals in the country, such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, focusing on quality improvement, operations and strategic planning. She is skilled at partnering and consulting with boards of directors, CEOs and senior executives on executive recruitment and retention, succession planning and organizational and leadership development.

Combined Leadership

“Health system boards now have an even better option than the customary ‘Big Four’ search firms,” said Mr. Southerland at the time of the launch. “Our experience gives us the unique ability to consistently identify the transformational leader mission-minded healthcare organizations need.”

“We have the unusual opportunity to access candidates who are off-limits to many large firms due to their wide range of clients and placements, enabling us to be even more selective when finding the right leader,” said Barry Cesafsky, board vice chair of the group.

“What sets us apart is that we have the level of experience and expertise of a large firm, but the speed, creativity and access of a small firm,” said Mr. Fry, who serves as president and CEO of the new organization. “Our clients aren’t passed on to a junior consultant after they sign. They work with senior consultants every step of the way – people who have 20 to 30 years of experience, have seen it before and can lead a search confidently.”

HealthSearch Partners combines the leadership of Oak Brook, IL-based CES Executive Search, and Dallas-headquartered firms FaithSearch Partners and Southerland Partners. Collectively, principals Mr. Southerland, Mr.Fry, Neill Marshall, Ms. Conley, Ivan Bartolome, and Mr. Cesafsky, have managed more than 500 healthcare CEO searches.

“What sets us apart is that we have the level of experience and expertise of a large firm, but the speed, creativity and access of a small firm,” said Mr. Fry. “Our clients aren’t passed on to a junior consultant after they sign. They work with senior consultants every step of the way – people who have 20 to 30 years of experience, have seen it before and can lead a search confidently.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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