SSM Health in St. Louis has hired Alexander Garza, MD, MPH, as chief medical officer for the region.
In the role, Dr. Garza will oversee medical staff affairs, patient safety/quality and clinical resource management across SSM Health’s eight St. Louis Hospitals. He succeeds Kevin Johnson, MD, who was promoted to SSM Health’s system vice president, chief medical officer of hospital operations in January 2016. Dr. Garza will begin his new role with SSM Health September 26.
Dr. Garza comes to SSM Health from Saint Louis University where he was an associate dean for public health practice and associate professor of epidemiology at SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice since 2013.
Prior to that, he served as assistant secretary and chief medical officer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an appointment he received from President Barack Obama in 2009. He legislated health, medical and biodefense authority for the DHS and played a critical role in protecting the United States from threats of terrorism.
During his time with the DHS, he led their response to the H1N1 flu pandemic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and internationally led the U.S. response to 2010’s earthquake in Haiti and 2011’s tsunami in Japan.
Dr. Garza began his career as an emergency responder, working as a flight paramedic and EMT before practicing emergency medicine at several institutions across the country including Georgetown University School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. During that time he also had leadership roles with health departments in Kansas City and the state of New Mexico.
In addition, Dr. Garza is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) as preventative medicine officer, command surgeon and public health team chief. Among his USAR deployments were serving as public health chief during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Flintlock in Dakar, Senegal. His efforts have earned Dr. Garza numerous military awards and decorations.
A graduate of the University of Missouri - Columbia School of Medicine, Dr. Garza holds a Master of Public Health from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.
About SSM Health – St. Louis
SSM Health is a Catholic, not-for-profit health system serving the comprehensive health needs of communities across the Midwest through one of the largest integrated delivery systems in the nation.
SSM Health – St. Louis operates 8 hospitals, 5 urgent care locations and more than 40 medical offices in the area. One of the largest employers in St. Louis, SSM Health is recognized as one of the Best Places to Work by the St. Louis Business Journal.
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