Steven C. Bjelich, FACHE-D, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saint Francis Healthcare System, was awarded the Missouri Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award for his leadership, advocacy and commitment to healthcare.
The award, the highest honor given by MHA, was presented to Bjelich on Thursday, November 3, during MHA’s 94th Annual Convention & Trade Show at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Mo.
“Steve’s influence as a member of the MHA Board of Trustees, his commitment to improving the value of the health care delivered at the state’s hospitals, and his dedication to a stronger, healthier Missouri, are unparalleled,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “He’s a fierce competitor. His tireless advocacy for better care has raised the bar for all of the state’s hospitals.”
“Steve Bjelich has changed the face of healthcare in the region Saint Francis serves,” said Don Kaverman, Chairman of the Board, Saint Francis Healthcare System. “His leadership has taken Saint Francis from a small hospital on the hill to a leading healthcare system. The amount of medical specialties and advanced technology here is part of Steve’s vision. The Board of Directors has guided Saint Francis through its growth with an exceptional president and chief executive officer. We are pleased the Missouri Hospital Association shares our recognition of his service.”
Bjelich has served as President and CEO at Saint Francis Healthcare System since 1999. During his tenure, the healthcare system has experienced unprecedented cultural changes, significant expansion and increased physician, employee and patient satisfaction. Over the last 17 years, Saint Francis’ physical plant has grown from 340,000 square feet to 1.4 million square feet; the employee base has grown from 1,103 employees to 2,800, with a payroll of more than $185 million. Saint Francis now has 34 affiliated outreach clinics in 10 communities and is affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute. In 2016, the Healthcare System completed its $127 million Building on Excellence project, which is the second largest private construction project in Cape Girardeau following Isle Casino, as well as implemented Epic as its system-wide electronic medical record, at a cost of $43 million.
“I have had the privilege of working with Steve on two fronts – as a Saint Francis Board Member and as Mayor of Cape Girardeau,” said Harry Rediger, Mayor, City of Cape Girardeau. “Steve’s vision for developing healthcare and his forethought based on needs has proven exact. From recruiting and retaining top level physicians to reaching out to outlying areas to build strong medical coalitions, he has been a great asset to Cape Girardeau and the surrounding region. I am delighted the Missouri Hospital Association has bestowed its greatest honor on him.”
Before joining Saint Francis, Bjelich served in several senior management positions at hospitals throughout the country. He served as President and CEO at Saint Francis Hospital and Healthcare Services in Wilmington, Del.; as Executive Director at Wyoming Valley Health Care System in Kingston, Pa.; Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Ky.; and Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at the Medical Center of North Hollywood in California.
Bjelich earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the Indiana University School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. He is a Distinguished Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, an advanced member in the Healthcare Financial Management Association and a member in the American Hospital Association.
Bjelich serves as Chair of the MHA Strategic Quality Advisory Committee, and is a former board chair of the Missouri Center for Patient Safety. He serves as a member of the MHA Board of Trustees. He received the MHA Visionary Leader Award in 2010.
The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit association in Jefferson City that represents 147 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public, as well as legislative representatives, about health care issues.