Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center names new president, restructures leadership team

HOUSTON – In a major shakeup, Gay Nord, who had served as president of Baylor-St. Luke's since October 2016, is out and Douglas Lawson is in effective immediately.

Chief Nursing Officer Jennifer Nitschmann and Senior Vice President of Operations Dr. David Berger have also left their roles according to a press release from the hospital.

The changes are coming as the hospital is under federal investigation after months of controversy.

In May, the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica published the results of a yearlong investigation showing serious problems that led to a high rate of patient deaths after heart transplants at the hospital.

In June, the hospital voluntarily stopped its heart transplant surgery program for two weeks to complete a medical review of two recent patient deaths and assess the program.

In August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut off federal funding for heart transplants at St. Luke's, saying the hospital had not done enough to fix problems that endanger patients.

Last week, CMS began a comprehensive investigation of the hospital after an emergency room patient died after receiving the wrong type of blood in a transfusion.

"Baylor St. Luke's has grown to become a leading teaching hospital in the Southwest. Yet, it has faced significant challenges over the last year, and the Board believes aggressive action is needed to address them," Marc Shapiro, chairman of the hospital's Board of Directors, said. "CMS's review raises concerns that are simply unacceptable to the Board or the hospital's owners, CHI and the Baylor College of Medicine."

The hospital is developing a 90-day plan focused on clinical excellence, patient experience and workplace culture. 

"We have the highest expectations of Baylor St. Luke's. The greater Houston community and beyond look to us for the highest standard of patient care and compassion, and we will live up to that expectation," Lawson said.

According to the press release, Lawson has served as CEO of the CHI Texas Division since March 2018. Before that, Lawson served at Baylor Scott & White Health as president of the North Texas Central Region and Baylor University Medical Center. 

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