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President and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System announces retirement plans

SPRINGFIELD — Mary Starmann-Harrison, president and CEO of Hospital Sisters Health System, has announced plans to retire in the second half of 2021.

HSHS operates several hospitals in Metro East, among others in two states.

Starmann-Harrison has led the system for almost 10 years and will assist in transitioning her successor prior to her retirement in 2021. Korn Ferry has been retained to begin a national search for her replacement.

“Mary’s contributions to the HSHS ministry over the past decade have far exceeded the usual measures for success,” said Sister Jomary Trstensky, OSF, chair of Hospital Sisters Ministries. “In everything she undertook, she acted with passion and with a personal investment in the underlying HSHS mission. She maintained an absolute vigilance for the religious values of the organization even while she searched for new and contemporary ways of serving those entrusted to our care.”

“During her tenure as HSHS president and CEO, Mary has overseen the growth of HSHS with a clear vision of establishing a high-quality and integrated model of care for the communities we serve,” said Bill Murray, chairperson of the HSHS Board of Directors. “Her authentic style of leadership and respect for those with whom she works have resulted in many new collaborative relationships, especially with our physician and nursing partners who care for our patients every day.”

Starmann-Harrison was born and raised in the Chicago area. After she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Arizona State University, she began her career as a registered nurse in the emergency department. She subsequently received her Master’s in Health Service Administration from Arizona State University and began her career in healthcare leadership in 1978 as an administrative resident.

She held several leadership roles at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona before becoming the CEO, a role she served in from 1988-1997.  From there, Starmann-Harrison accepted a role with Tenet Healthcare as the CEO of physician services for the western region of the United States. Prior to accepting her current role with HSHS, she served as regional president and CEO of SSM Health Care in Wisconsin for 12 years.

In 1988, Starmann-Harrison received Modern Healthcare’s Up and Comer Award and was a part of the leadership team at SSM to receive the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in 2002— the first healthcare entity to receive this prestigious award. In 2013, she received the Wisconsin Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award. Starmann-Harrison is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, where she currently serves on the ACHE Board of Governors. She is a past chair of WHA and Illinois Hospital Association and continues to serve on the IHA board. She previously served as a board member of the American Hospital Association.

During Starmann-Harrison’s tenure as HSHS president and CEO, HSHS has grown to 15 hospitals in Illinois and Wisconsin, adding HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, Illinois, and HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville, Illinois to the system. Also in Illinois, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, and HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, both relocated after the construction of new hospitals in Highland and O’Fallon. HSHS Medical Group and Prairie Cardiovascular experienced significant growth, and the Prevea physician partnership expanded and continues to grow.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve HSHS for the past decade,” said Starmann-Harrison. “As I reflect on my long career in healthcare, there have been so many learnings, especially in the most challenging years such as 2020. I am so grateful for the incredible colleagues I have worked with over the years. Our HSHS colleagues are mission-focused, dedicated and they take amazing care of our patients – which has been abundantly clear this last year. I will always remember the inspiration from St. Francis which has guided me for many years, ‘Start with doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.’”

Under Starmann-Harrison’s leadership, HSHS also created numerous partnerships and affiliations to improve access to high-quality health care in the communities served. Some of those include Door County Medical Center, Decatur Ambulance Service, Springfield Clinic, Oakleaf Clinic and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She was also a key leader in establishing health insurance products in Wisconsin and Illinois, including Prevea360 in Wisconsin and Live360 in Illinois, which offers community employers high-quality network providers at an affordable cost.

The search for the next HSHS president and CEO will begin immediately. It is expected to take approximately six months to identify a successful candidate who will work closely with Starmann-Harrison prior to her retirement.

Starmann-Harrison and her husband Greg plan to retire in Arizona.

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