AUSTIN, Texas – (Aug. 22, 2014) – Charles J. Barnett, FACHE, will retire as executive board chair of Seton Healthcare Family in February 2015, starting an orderly leadership transition over the next six months. Barnett’s decision to retire will close a chapter in a remarkable two decades of continuous service to Seton and the community. Seton is part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and largest not-for-profit healthcare system.
“Charles Barnett has been a visionary leader, guiding Seton Healthcare Family to become the region’s major health care and services provider,” Jesús Garza, who succeeded Barnett as Seton’s president and chief executive officer last year, said. “The Seton Board of Trustees, the Daughters of Charity, our executive team and I are grateful for his innumerable contributions and his distinguished tenure.”
Barnett served as president and CEO of Seton Healthcare Family from 1993 to 2012, when he took a leave to serve in the interim role as president, Healthcare Operations, and chief operating officer of Ascension Health. In June 2012, Barnett became the first lay Board Chair in Seton’s 100-year history in Austin and in July 2013 he was appointed Executive Board Chair. As Executive Board Chair, Barnett provides leadership to the Seton Board and works on strategic projects as a senior vice president with Ascension.
“Charles has strengthened Seton’s ability to serve Central Texas, and has benefited Ascension with his unique insights, focus and experience,” Anthony R. Tersigni, Ed.D., FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Ascension, said. “His wisdom, insight and dedication – coupled with his clarity of thought and his ability to get things done – have contributed greatly to Ascension’s ability to live our Mission and realize our Vision.”
Under Barnett’s leadership, Seton Healthcare Family grew as a hospital system and as a critical component of the safety net for underserved patients in need of inpatient hospital care. Seton became the operator of Brackenridge Hospital, the Austin/Travis County safety net hospital and the center of academic medicine in Austin. Seton also worked with area pediatricians to create Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas during Barnett’s leadership. That legacy continues with construction of a new teaching hospital, Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, to be completed in 2017.
Barnett also introduced new ways to care for a growing and diverse population, including the addition of insurance products and the first steps toward a more organized system of care.
‘I’ve been privileged to lead Austin’s premier health care system,’ Barnett said. ‘After more than two decades, it’s time to transfer the responsibility of leadership to Jesús and his executive team.”
Barnett has always been guided by the Seton Mission. “All of us who are part of this ministry recognize the responsibility to care for the poor and to reach out to the community,” he said.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic rise in the level of Seton’s charity care and community benefit. In 1991, before Barnett arrived, Seton charity care and community benefit totaled $7 million. In 2013, Seton provided $340 million in charity care alone.
Barnett has collaborated with other entities to help deliver health care to an exploding Central Texas population, projected to be 4.1 million by 2040. During his tenure, Seton began operating health services for the Austin Independent School District. Seton also entered into relationships with others to provide a continuum of care, and with colleges and universities to ensure a pipeline of well-trained clinicians.
Perhaps the most unique of Seton’s collaborations is the Community Care Collaborative, a partnership between Seton and Central Health, the Travis County health care district, being designed to manage the care of uninsured persons who qualify for services. Barnett describes the Community Care Collaborative as “an innovative expression of our commitment to offer health care to an underserved population.”
“Seton’s mission is at the heart of everything Charles Barnett has accomplished in the past two decades,” said Seton board member Matthew Dowd. “Now, as Charles steps away, he has ensured that Seton is poised to meet the challenges ahead, and offer future generations the best available health care to everyone who needs it.”
Barnett and his wife, Carol, will continue to live in Austin and remain active in the community. He will continue to chair the Children’s Optimal Health Board, which uses geographic information systems (GIS) mapping to visualize and guide improvement of the health of children in Central Texas. He recently has taken a role as an Executive in Residence in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Barnett also serves as a board member of Cognitive Pulse, an Austin-based company that uses advanced analytics, including IBM’s Watson technology, to develop insights from “big data” for improved health care for patients.
A new Executive Board Chair will be identified before February.