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SSM Health hires new St. Mary's Hospital president

SSM Health hires new St. Mary's Hospital president

January 24th, 2019 by Joe Gamm in News

St. Mary's Hospital sits on Mission Drive. SSM and MU Health announced in August they were negotiating the possible sale of SSM Health's St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City and Mexico (the former Audrain Medical Center) and their associated clinics, following SSM's decision to leave the Mid-Missouri marketplace.

Photo by Kris Wilson /News Tribune.

There is a new president at St. Mary's Hospital in Jefferson City.

SSM Health, a Catholic nonprofit and the St. Louis-based health care provider that owns St. Mary's announced Wednesday that it has chosen Mike Baumgartner, who was serving as the president of SSM Health St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, to become president of SSM Health in Mid-Missouri.

He replaces Phil Gustafson, who came out of retirement about a year ago to serve as interim president of the Jefferson City hospital.

During his time at St. Mary's, Gustafson has been credited with turning around financial struggles in which the hospital found itself.

St. Mary's Hospital has operated in Jefferson City for about 115 years. In 2014, SSM Health opened a new multimillion-dollar facility in Jefferson City. By 2016, in tax filings, the health care provider reported losses of more than $20 million.

And in August, SSM Health announced it was in exclusive discussions to sell the hospital and other Central Missouri health care facilities to MU Health Care. The sale would also include the transfer of SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital-Audrain, along with outpatient, home care, hospice and medical group locations throughout the region to MU Health Care, as well as transfer of the Maryville hospital (in northwest Missouri) and its affiliated outpatient home care, hospice and medical group locations to St. Joseph-based Mosaic Life Care.

The process is in the due-diligence phase, in which both parties are looking at the proposal to see how it fits their missions.

Baumgartner will begin his new role immediately, working closely with Gustafson as part of the transition, said Jessica Royston, marketing and communication manager for SSM Health Mid-Missouri Region.

"Given the important work underway, it is crucial that we have a full-time president in place," she said in an email to the News Tribune.

Although Gustafson in his interim role was only expected to work through December 2018, he agreed to stay on until March 13 to ensure a smooth transition. Royston told the newspaper SSM Health had disclosed the change in leadership to MU Health Care.

Baumgartner's LinkedIn page shows he has been at the Maryville hospital for about four years. Before that, he served as president at Baptist Health Hospital in Madisonville, Kentucky, and at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minnesota.

While in Maryville, he is credited with expansion of several departments, including emergency services.