Today, Memorial Hermann’s President and CEO, Charles “Chuck” D. Stokes, announced his decision to retire at the end of 2019.
“I have been fortunate to serve Memorial Hermann for more than 10 years and have had the distinct pleasure to work alongside some of the most talented and hard-working professionals in health care,” Stokes said. “I am inspired every day by their unwavering compassion and dedication to each other, their patients and to this community. It’s with profound gratitude that I prepare to embark on this new phase of my life with my wife, Judy, during which we plan to travel and spend more time with family. I will also spend my retirement teaching and volunteering, with a focus on preparing and educating the next generation of healthcare leaders.”
The Memorial Hermann Board has engaged a leading executive search firm to conduct a national search for Stokes’s successor, which is set to begin immediately. The Board will consider both internal and external candidates.
“Chuck is a well-loved visionary whose unique style of servant leadership, insightful perspectives and unrelenting focus on quality and high-reliability have been a guiding force for our organization for many years,” said Memorial Hermann Board Chair Deborah M. Cannon. “We have always known it was Chuck’s intention to retire this year, and we are incredibly appreciative that he decided to make Memorial Hermann the last stop in his long and storied career.”
Stokes first joined Memorial Hermann in 2008 as Chief Operating Officer and was promoted to President and CEO in 2017. During his tenure, he established a culture of excellence, transforming the system’s operational structure to ensure its long-term success in a new era of health care. His leadership has also been instrumental in helping Memorial Hermann achieve unprecedented national accolades. Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital became the first organization and hospital in the Houston area to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence.
Under Stokes’s guidance, Memorial Hermann has accelerated its efforts to make health care more convenient and affordable for all. As part of Stokes’s ambition to address skyrocketing healthcare costs across the country, Memorial Hermann joined an elite group of national healthcare institutions as a founding member of Civica Rx, a not-for-profit generic drug company working to curtail rising drug prices.
Additionally, Stokes has been an ardent proponent of advancing the health and wellness of Greater Houston, advocating for robust resources and stronger outreach to assist individuals, not only within Memorial Hermann facilities, but in the broader community as well. During his tenure as President and CEO, Memorial Hermann launched “Hometown Healing,” a coordinated volunteering initiative mobilizing the system’s workforce of more than 26,000 employees to give back to their communities through various philanthropic efforts.
Stokes announced his retirement 10 months in advance of his planned departure date, which is at the end of the calendar year, to provide the Board with ample opportunity to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search. He will continue to serve as President and CEO until his successor is in place and will work with the executive team and Board to ensure a seamless transition.
“As a leading national healthcare provider, Memorial Hermann has accomplished remarkable successes, both financially and operationally, during Chuck’s tenure. We are also fortunate to have a strong executive team in place. We intend to identify a strong and capable candidate who will build upon the momentum this organization has achieved while maintaining our deep-rooted commitment to safely and compassionately care for those we serve,” Cannon said.
Stokes’s retirement caps a distinguished career that started at the bedside as a registered nurse and has spanned 40 years. Prior to joining Memorial Hermann, he served as President of North Mississippi Medical Center, a 650-bed tertiary hospital and a 2006 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. He previously served as COO for three other health systems and as Vice President of Operations for St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute in Houston. He is also the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Governors for the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), an organization of more than 48,000 healthcare executives working together to improve care delivery and the education of healthcare leaders.
“It has been my deepest honor to serve an organization with a century-long legacy of placing the health and wellbeing of its patients at the forefront,” Stokes said. “Not only has Memorial Hermann achieved a well-deserved national reputation for safe, high-quality care, but we have demonstrated time and again to our friends, family members and neighbors across Greater Houston that we are dedicated to being there for them whenever they need us. Our commitment to this community will never change, and I’m humbled to have been a part of that mission.”