As Chief Community Health Officer, Alexander Garza, MD, is responsible for deepening SSM Health’s focus on social determinants of health, equity and social justice, as well as supporting the work of SSM Health’s transition to population health.
Dr. Garza has decades of experience in public health, quality and safety and policy development. He has organized and led SSM Health’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic before assuming the role of Incident Commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, overseeing the region’s coordinated response efforts.
Dr. Garza became Chief Community Health Officer in August 2020, after serving as Chief Medical Officer since 2018, overseeing quality, patient safety, clinical analytics. Prior to this role, he served as SSM Health’s Chief Quality Officer, as well as Chief Medical Officer for the St. Louis region.
Board-certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Garza has over 13 years practicing and teaching in higher education. Before joining SSM Health, he was an Associate Dean and Professor at the Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice. He has published numerous scientific papers on original research in peer reviewed journals and lectured nationally and internationally.
Previously, he served as Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He legislated health, medical and biodefense authority for the DHS and played a critical role in protecting the US from threats of terrorism. Dr. Garza is also a Colonel with over 20 years of service in the US Army Reserves. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and serves as the Command Surgeon for the 352 Civil Affairs Command. He has received numerous awards for his service including the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge.
Dr. Garza received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, a medical degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a master’s degree in Public Health from Saint Louis University.