SSM Health St. Louis' Leadership Team 

Meet the Regional Management Council, the Hospital & Service Line Leadership and the SSM Health Medical Group Leadership of SSM Health St. Louis.

Regional Management Council

Candace Jennings
Regional President, Hospital Operations

Candace Jennings joined SSM Health St. Louis as the regional president for hospital operations in August 2014. In her role, Jennings has responsibility for eight hospitals in the St. Louis area: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, SSM Health St. Clare Hospital - Fenton, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Wentzville, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis, along with SSM Health Outpatient Center.The St. Louis network includes about 3,000 physicians and 15,000 employees.

She shares leadership with the regional president of the physicians organization, both of whom are charged with creating, maintaining and advancing SSM Health’s integrated delivery network in response to the health needs of the region.

Before joining SSM Health, Jennings served as senior vice president for Tennessee operations for the Mountain States Health Alliance. She served as the market leader for the Tennessee division, which included five acute-care and three specialty hospitals.

Jennings, a registered nurse, also served as senior practice partner at Wheless and Associates, an executive search firm in Birmingham, Ala., and as senior vice president and hospital administrator at Northeast Baptist Hospital, San Antonio. She also spent five years as a consultant to health care organizations with Ernst & Young.

She holds a master’s degree in health services administration and a master of science in nursing from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

James Bleicher, MD, MHCMJames Bleicher, MD, MHCM
Regional President, Physicians’ Organization

James Bleicher, MD, was named regional president for the SSM Health St. Louis Physicians’ Organization, a multi-specialty group practice with more than 350 physicians in more than 40 locations covering the greater St. Louis region, in January 2015. Dr. Bleicher joined SSM Health with more than a decade of executive leadership experience in large health care systems across the country. Previously, Dr. Bleicher was president and chief executive of the employed physician group at Pinnacle Health System in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Pinnacle, Dr. Bleicher served in various chief executive and vice president of medical affairs roles within health care organizations across Arizona and Michigan. He is a board certified internist who received his medical degree at Michigan State University. He also is a Six Sigma black belt and holds a Master of Science in Health Care Management from Harvard University.

Lee BernsteinLee Bernstein
Regional Executive VP, Hospital Operations, Chief Operating Officer

Bernstein has been with SSM Health St. Louis since 2007, initially as the interim executive vice president/chief operating officer for SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis and then leading the network’s North Operating Group as executive vice president/chief operating officer.

Prior to joining SSM Health St. Louis, Bernstein spent 20 years as a vice president for BJC Health Care in various operating capacities. He was a principal in the design and activation of The Center for Advanced Medicine, the development of 48 new operating rooms for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the opening of SSM Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis.

Bernstein holds master’s degrees in both health and business administration from Washington University in St. Louis.


Kathy Kuhlenbeck
Regional VP, Strategic Development

Kathy Kuhlenbeck became a system vice president in 2013, and she currently serves as the vice president for strategic development for the SSM Health St. Louis region. She has responsibility for strategy and business development and physician services for adult and pediatric services.

Kuhlenbeck previously served as executive director strategy and business development for the SSM Health St. Louis maternal and pediatric service lines. She also has prior experience in the financial and strategic planning arena. Her professional experience includes terms as senior vice president financial planning for Panera Bread, chief financial officer of Angelica – Manufacturing Division, and chief financial officer of Bachrach Clothing Inc., where she was responsible for the financial and business development aspects of the organizations.

Kuhlenbeck graduated from SIUE-Edwardsville with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and has been a certified public accountant (CPA) since 1983. She also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She has served on the board and executive committee of Illinois hospital boards and currently serves as a board member for Basket of Hope.

Karen Rewerts
Regional VP, Finance/CFO

Karen Rewerts serves as the SSM Health St. Louis network’s vice president of finance and as its chief financial officer. She oversees the network’s financial functions, including accounting, finance and patient financial services.

Rewerts most recently was SSM Health St. Louis’ vice president/planning and decision support. She has been with SSM Health for 18 years, starting as director of financial planning at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, where she also served as director of strategy and business development. 

A certified public accountant (CPA), Rewerts earned her master of business administration from Saint Louis University and a bachelor of science in accountancy from the University of Illinois.

Renee Roach
Regional VP, Human Resources

Renee Roach was named regional vice president for human resources for SSM Health St. Louis in July 2014. In her position, Roach is responsible for implementing and supporting all human resources initiatives, programs and procedures in the St. Louis region in collaboration with SSM Health’s system human resources team. Areas of responsibility include employment, compensation, benefits, physician relations, employee relations, learning, development and diversity.

Roach joined SSM Health after working for Express Scripts Inc. as vice president for human resources since 2010. At Express Scripts, she was a strategic business partner supporting key initiatives: talent acquisition and development, executive compensation, workforce planning and optimization, HR operations, performance management, and employee and labor relations.

Before that, Roach served as senior vice president for human resources for Citigroup Inc. in O’Fallon. She has experience with two other health-care organizations: Crossroads Regional Medical Center in Wentzville and OSF HealthCare in Peoria, Ill.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in organizational communication, both at the University of Illinois Springfield. She has held her certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, from the HR Certification Institute, since 2001.


Hospital and Service Line Leadership


Kathleen Becker
President, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital 

Kathleen (Kate) Becker is president of SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, a 356-bed academic medical center in St. Louis, Mo. Most recently, Becker was president of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. She also was the service line executive for the SSM Health Heart & Vascular and the Pediatric and Women's Health services, which are major specialty-focused medical services for SSM Health St. Louis.

Prior to joining SSM Health in 2011, Becker was at Saint Louis University, where she served as the chief executive officer for SLUCare, the university’s multispecialty medical practice. Becker previously served as associate general counsel for the university and has held key positions in a variety of law firms. Becker holds a master’s degree in public health and health policy from Saint Louis University and a JD degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Mike Bowers
President, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles

Mike Bowers took over as president of the 333-bed SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles in June 2014. Bowers oversees hospital operations for SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Wentzville and SSM Health Outpatient Center. Since 1996, Bowers has served in leadership roles in large health-care systems. He brought to SSM Health his extensive experience in operations, financial management, strategy and business development and in developing physician relationships to SSM Health.

Prior to joining the SSM Health team, he served most recently as chief operating officer for Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and chief strategy officer for the Dignity Health Central Valley Region – both with the Dignity Health system in California. Bowers earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science from the University of Pittsburgh and master’s degrees in health and business administration from the University of Houston - Clear Lake.

Steven Burghart
PresidentSteven Burghart
SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

Steven Burghart serves as the President of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and as the service line leader for maternal and pediatric services for SSM Health in St. Louis.

His professional experience includes serving as CEO of Holtz Children’s and The Women’s Hospital at University of Miami / Jackson Memorial Medical Center, where he helped lead Jackson’s 421-bed tertiary and quaternary referral center for complex OB/GYN, GYN Oncology and Pediatrics. Before Jackson Health System, he worked for Tenet Healthcare in regional and hospital roles and served as COO at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach and COO at Hialeah Hospital.

Burghart graduated Baylor University and earned master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University.  He is a three-time winner of Becker’s “40 under 40” Hospital Executive Rising Stars (2011-2013). He has served on community boards, including Faith Hope Love Charity’s “Stand Down House” for Veterans, Meals on Wheels, Doral Business Council and Ukulele Kids Club.

Travis CapersTravis Capers
President, SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - St. Louis

Travis Capers joined SSM Health in 2016 as the President of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, a 527-bed hospital in Richmond Heights, Missouri. He has more than 20 years of experience in health care in the areas of operations, financial management, strategic and business planning, service line development and quality improvement.

Prior to joining SSM Health, Capers was the Chief Executive Officer of Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank in New Orleans, Louisiana from 2011-2016. While there, he significantly improved the operating margin over a three-year period, added a new service line, implemented electronic medical records and improved employee engagement. He also served as the Chief Operating Officer of HCA-Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for eight years.

Capers is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and has completed the Harvard Business School Executive Managing Health Care Delivery Program.  Capers attended the University of South Carolina, School of Public Health and received a Master of Health Administration degree and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina, where he graduated Cum Laude.

Ellis Hawkins
President, SSM Health St. Clare Hospital - Fenton

Ellis Hawkins has served as president of SSM Health St. Clare Hospital - Fenton, a 180-bed acute care hospital, since January 2014. Previously, Hawkins served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, Mo. Hawkins has more than 22 years of experience in health care in the areas of operations and financial management, performance improvement, strategic planning, clinical integration, physician relations and service line development. He previously worked for 12 years with SSM Health also serving in the roles of Administrative Director Oncology and Outpatient Services for SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis, Administrative Director of Business Development for SSM St. Joseph Health Center, Executive Director of Diagnostics and Executive Director for Ambulatory Operations for SSM Health St. Louis. Hawkins holds an undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, as well as an MBA from Webster University.

Sean Hogan
President, SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis
Service Line Executive, Ambulatory Services, SSM Neurosciences Institute

Sean Hogan is president of SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis, a 478-bed acute care hospital located in Bridgeton, Mo., and service line executive for the Ambulatory Services division of SSM Health St. Louis, for which he oversees the region's outpatient imaging, ambulatory surgery, endoscopy and sleep center as well as joint ventures and other ambulatory partnerships. He previously served as the executive vice president/chief operating officer as well as the strategy and business development leader for SSM Health DePaul. Before originally joining SSM Health DePaul in 1999, Hogan served as vice president of operations over three hospitals in the Providence Health System based in Portland, Ore. Hogan holds a master’s degree in health administration from Saint Louis University.

Lisle WescottLisle Wescott
President, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis
Service Line Executive, SSM Health Orthopedics

Lisle Wescott is president of SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - Lake Saint Louis, a 122-bed hospital and service line executive for SSM Health Orthopedics. Wescott joined SSM Health St. Louis in 2004 as a physician services manager at SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis and has served in various positions during her tenure. She most recently worked as the Network Director of Strategy and Business Development for SSM Health Orthopedics, and has proven herself to be an exceptional leader.  She has extensive experience in operations, program development, strategic planning and physician partnerships. Her focus continues on deepening alignment and relationships with physicians and strengthening patient, physician and employee satisfaction. Wescott holds a master’s degree in social work from California State University in Fresno, CA.

SSM Medical Group Leadership

Thomas Hanley, MD
Vice President, Medical Affairs – Primary and Specialty Groups
SSM Health Medical Group

Thomas Hanley, MD, has served as the vice president, medical affairs of primary and specialty groups for the SSM Health Medical Group since 2013. In this role, Dr. Hanley directs initiatives related to population health, such as Patient Centered Medical Home, Medical Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization and the St. Louis Clinical Integration Organization. Dr. Hanley joined the SSM Health in 2000. Since 2007, he has had an ever-increasing role as an administrative physician leader within the organization. His initial role included implementing Epic electronic health records in the Medical Group offices and establishing the Medical Group Quality and Process Improvement Department. Dr. Hanley’s long-standing association with SSM Health – St. Louis includes a term as Medical Staff President at SSM St. Mary’s Hospital in 1993, among other leadership roles. Dr. Hanley is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. He received his Medical Degree from Saint Louis University and completed his residency training from Saint Louis University at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Rachel Dietz
Executive Director
SSM Health Medical Group – North and South Regions

Rachel Dietz is executive director of SSM Health Medical Group, a multi-specialty medical group serving the north  and south regions of St. Louis City and St Louis County. Specialties include primary care, ob/gyn, cardiology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, podiatry, pulmonology and rheumatology. Before being named to her current position in January 2009, Dietz spent 10 years with SSM Health's Physicians’ Organization serving as the director of process improvement, which supported the integration of physicians through information technology and change management. Dietz is an MQA examiner for the Excellence in Missouri Foundation.