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After a decade of changes, St. Luke’s CEO announces retirement

Dr. David Pate, CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, will retire in January. Idaho Business Review file photo

David Pate, CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, announced Wednesday he plans to retire in January.

Pate is a doctor and lawyer who joined St. Luke’s about a decade ago. When he was hired, he made the St. Luke’s board of directors three promises, he told the Statesman in an interview Wednesday.

“I committed to being here 10 years,” he said. “The second promise I made is that I would lead St. Luke’s Health System to becoming a national quality leader within five years, and we did that. And then the third promise was … by the time I retired, I would have developed at least one (internal candidate) that the board could consider to be my successor.”

That successor will be Chris Roth, a longtime St. Luke’s executive who has held local and system-wide leadership roles in the past 12 years.

Roth says his experience, especially under Pate’s leadership, “has prepared me to carry on the legacy and the strategy that we’ve set forth.”

Roth is moving into the CEO job as St. Luke’s works on shaping its culture, Pate said.

“We have a great culture at St. Luke’s, but we know that as we continue to evolve, the culture needs to evolve with that, and this is a particular strength of Chris’s,” Pate said. “What kinds of things do we want to engage our leaders in? … We want to drive the culture, we don’t want the culture to just occur on its own.”

Pate’s tenure brought major growth and change to St. Luke’s. The system has, among other things:

  • acquired existing hospitals and physician clinics, and built new ones — most recently in Nampa.
  • made a “value based” deal with Utah-based Select Health that brought the health insurer into the Idaho insurance market and created a mechanism to hold St. Luke’s accountable for health costs.
  • built the St. Luke’s workforce to about 14,000 employees in Idaho and eastern Oregon.
  • expanded its flagship hospital campus in Downtown Boise.
  • launched a virtual care center and eICU to help reach patients outside of its own walls.
  • designed a system called Project Zero to prevent infections in surgical patients.

St. Luke’s also has faced some challenges since 2009, including the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, which had major financial implications for hospitals nationwide, and a lengthy court battle over its 2012 acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa.

Pate said that although he and his wife are from Texas, they look forward to remaining in Idaho.

Pate, who will be 63 when he retires, plans to spend his retirement with his wife, children and grandchildren in the area. He also expects to keep teaching health care law for the University of Idaho’s law school and wants to continue writing about health care and health policy.

“Lynette and I love Idaho. We think it’s the best place we’ve ever lived. We plan to live out our lives here,” he told the Statesman, adding jokingly, “If anybody has any interest in what the opinion of what the old guy is, I will be around.”

About Audrey Dutton Idaho Statesman