SSM Health St. Louis' Leadership Team 

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

Network 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 seven hospitals in the St. Louis area: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis, 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 2,500 physicians and 11,200 employees.

She shares leadership with the regional president of the physician 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 325 physicians in 40 locations covering the greater St. Louis region, in January 2015. Dr. Bleicher joined SSM 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.

Maggie Fowler
Regional VP, Nursing
Chief Nursing Executive
Fowler is the regional vice president of nursing/chief nursing officer (CNO) for SSM Health St. Louis. She was appointed to the position in early 2012. Fowler has been an SSM Health nursing executive for more than 20 years. She previously served as vice president for nursing operations for SSM Health St. Louis’ North Operating Group, executive vice president/chief operating officer and vice president of patient services for SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles, and executive vice president/chief operating officer and regional administrator for SSM Rehab. 

As chief nursing officer, Fowler provides responsibility and accountability for SSM Health St. Louis’ delivery of quality health care as it applies to the areas of patient satisfaction, safety and professional nursing practice.


Fowler earned her master of business administration from Maryville University, St. Louis, and her bachelor of science in nursing from Webster University, St. Louis.


Kevin Johnson, MD
Regional VP, Medical Affairs/Chief Medical Officer
Kevin Johnson, MD, has served as Chief Medical Officer of SSM Health St. Louis since November 2008.  In this role, Dr. Johnson is responsible for overseeing the strategic development, direction and management support provided to the health care network’s seven St. Louis hospitals and the SSM Health Medical Group in the areas of clinical quality performance, patient safety and clinical resource management.

In addition to his role as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Johnson has served as the network’s Vice President – Chief Quality Officer since March 2008.  He also served as Vice President, Medical Affairs at SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis from 1998 to March 2008.

From 1985 – 2004, Dr. Johnson held hospital staff memberships at SSM Health DePaul Hospital - St. Louis and St. John’s Mercy Medical Center; practicing pulmonary medicine, critical care and internal medicine with Northway Internists and SSM DePaul Medical Group.

Dr. Johnson earned his MBA in 1998 and his certification as a Physician Executive (ACPE) in 2001.  Dr. Johnson also served as a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Examiner for three years, from 2004 to 2006.  In 2007, Dr. Johnson attained Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt certification.

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 network 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. She reports to the system’s senior vice president for human resources.

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

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 network’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.

Ellis Hawkins
President, SSM Health St. Clare Hospital - Fenton
Beginning January 2014, Ellis Hawkins serves as president of SSM Health St. Clare Hospital - Fenton. Most recently, 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 twelve years with SSM Health Care, 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 for SSM St. Louis, and Executive Director for Ambulatory Operations for SSM Health St. Louis. Hawkins holds an undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, as well as a MBA from Webster University.

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.

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.

Kathleen Becker
President, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis,
SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital
Service Line Executive, SSM Health Heart & Vascular, Pediatrics and Women's Health
Kathleen (Kate) Becker is president of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis, a 525-bed acute care hospital in Richmond Heights, Mo., and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, a 190-bed tertiary pediatric hospital in St. Louis, Mo. She is also the service line executive for the SSM Health Heart & Vascular and the Pediatric and Women's Health services, major specialty-focused medical services for SSM Health St. Louis. Becker joined SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in 2011 and came to be president over SSM Health Cardinal Glennon as well in 2014. Previously she 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.

SSM Medical Group Leadership

Thomas Hanley, M.D.
Vice President, Medical Affairs – Primary and Specialty Groups
SSM Health Medical Group

Thomas Hanley, M.D., 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 Medical Group 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 Care – St. Louis includes a term as Medical Staff President at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in 1993, among other leadership roles. Dr. Hanley is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. He received his Medical Degree from St. Louis University and completed his residency training from St. Louis University at St. Mary’s Health Center.

Margaret Head, RN, MSN, MBA
Vice President, Operations
Physicians’ Organization
Margaret Head was named vice president of operations for the medical group in September 2014. She came to SSM Health from Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville, Tennessee, where she served as chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. While there, she directed all ambulatory operations for more than 1600 Vanderbilt medical group physicians providing a full range of primary care, specialty and ancillary services, comprising more than 130 outpatient specialty practices in several campus and off-campus locations. Prior to her position at Vanderbilt, Head was accountable for all operational activities of a large multi-specialty group practice of approximately 300 providers and 1200 staff at 18 locations in the greater Houston area at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston, Texas. She obtained an MSN from University of Texas Health Science Center and an MBA from University of Houston at Clear Lake.

Stephen Nicholas, M.D.
Vice President, Medical Affairs – Service Line Practices
Physicians’ Organization

Stephen Nicholas, M.D., accepted the role of vice president, medical affairs in April 2014. In this role, Dr. Nicholas oversees four key service lines for SSM Health St. Louis: SSM Health Cancer Care, SSM Health Heart & Vascular, SSM Health Neurosciences and SSM Health Orthopedics. Dr. Nicholas works with service line teams to ensure patients receive the highest quality of care and service. He has served in several medical leadership positions within SSM Health, including Clinical Director of Clayton Wellness, Medical Director of Gastroenterology, Associate Director for the Department of Internal Medicine, and Medical Director Informatics at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - St. Louis. Dr. Nicholas also has been in private practice in internal medicine and gastroenterology since 1984. Dr. Nicholas obtained his medical degree from University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at St. Mary’s Health Center and gastroenterology fellowship from Saint Louis University at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. Dr. Nicholas also earned an MBA degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

Rachel Dietz
Executive Director
SSM Medical Group – North and South Regions
Rachel Dietz is executive director of SSM Health Medical Group – North Region, a multi-specialty medical group serving the north region 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.

David A. Kelch
Executive Director
SSM Medical Group – West Region
David A. Kelch, FACMPE, is executive director of SSM Health Medical Group – West Region, a multi-specialty medical group serving St. Charles County, Warrenton and Troy, Mo. Specialties include primary care, ob/gyn, allergy and immunology, cardiology, gastroenterology, breast surgery, general surgery, endovascular surgery, endocrinology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, podiatry, pulmonology, sleep medicine and rheumatology. Kelch has been active in health care management since the early 1980s. He began his career with SSM Health at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles while he was still in high school. He then joined Blanchette Management from 1987 through 1999. Kelch rejoined SSM Health Care in 2003 and served for nearly 10 years as associate executive director for SSM Health Medical Group in the West Region (formerly SSM St. Charles Clinic Medical Group). Kelch is past president of the Medical Group Management Association–Missouri (MGMA-MO) and currently serves as Chairman of the Vendor Relations Committee for MGMA National.