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The Interview: Memorial Hermann CEO Chuck Stokes

By Philip Betbeze  
   February 01, 2018

'The hands-on perspective of taking care of a patient gives you insight into running a health system.'

This article first appeared in the January/February 2018 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Chuck Stokes never wanted to be CEO. He would have been happy to finish his career at Memorial Hermann as its chief operating officer, a job he'd held since 2008.

So when longtime president and CEO Dan Wolterman retired in 2016, Stokes says he was not a candidate, and indeed, the health system sought a new direction in mid-2016 by hiring a physician CEO, Benjamin K. Chu, MD, from Kaiser Permanente.

But Chu's tenure lasted just one year. He resigned, effective immediately, June 19, 2017. It remains unclear whether he was forced out.

The board said he left to seek a role in crafting health and public policy, but he did not immediately find a new position. Reports suggest the executive, who had never been a CEO, struggled to adjust to the role and was a poor fit for the 13-hospital health system.

Stokes was immediately named interim CEO, and the board moved quickly, removing the "interim" tag only two weeks later.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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