Fletcher Allen CEO Melinda Estes, M.D., Will Leave To Lead Major Midwest Hospital System


John Brumsted, M.D., Named Interim CEO

June 24, 2011

Mike Noble
Marketing and Communications

BURLINGTON VT – Fletcher Allen Health Care announced today that President and Chief Executive Officer Melinda Estes, M.D., will be leaving the organization in mid-August to become the president and chief executive officer at St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri. She will be replacing G. Richard Hastings, who is retiring after 35 years with St. Luke’s.  Saint Luke's is a faith-based, not-for-profit health system with 11 hospitals and related health services in the Kansas City area and surrounding region.

Fletcher Allen also announced today that John Brumsted, M.D., chief medical officer, has been named interim chief executive officer, and will serve in that capacity while the board of trustees pursues a national search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Estes. 

In a message to the Fletcher Allen community, Dr. Estes said, “What success I have enjoyed at Fletcher Allen has been the result of the efforts of many.  This has been a true team sport.  Together, we have elevated this organization to a position of respect around the country, regardless of how you measure our success.  The quality of care we provide, the technology used to provide it, the commitment of the physicians and staff, the proximity and partnership with the University of Vermont, and the stewardship of resources make us the envy of most academic medical centers.”

In commenting on Dr. Estes’ leadership, Roger Stone, chair of the Board of Trustees said, “We have been very fortunate to have Dr. Estes at the helm for almost eight years. Thanks to her leadership, Fletcher Allen is on very solid ground and well-positioned for the future. I join my fellow board members and staff at Fletcher Allen in thanking her for all she has done for Fletcher Allen and wishing her all the best in her new role.”

Dr. Brumsted, 58, a member of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has practiced medicine at Fletcher Allen since 1985 and has held numerous administrative positions during his tenure, including serving as interim chief executive officer in the late 1990s and serving as chief quality officer for many years.

Accomplishments During Dr. Estes’ Tenure

Dr. Estes, 58, joined Fletcher Allen in October 2003, succeeding then interim President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Colodny.

From the beginning, her philosophy has been simple.  “At the end of the day,” she has said, “if we put the patient first, everything else will follow.”

An early task was to rebuild public trust, and establish a culture of integrity, accountability, respect and customer service, which has transformed the organization. During her eight-year tenure, the organization accomplished a great deal, including:

  • Creation of a strong leadership team and the development of “bench strength” throughout the organization.
  • Establishment of an Institute for Quality and Operational Effectiveness early in her tenure. The institute, dedicated in honor of Senator James M. Jeffords in 2006, supports the organization’s efforts to improve quality, patient safety and operational efficiency.  In 2008, Fletcher Allen received the “Rising Star Award” from the University Healthsystem Consortium, which recognized the organization’s continued improvement in quality of care.
  • A focus on delivering high-quality, low-cost health care.  Fletcher Allen has achieved strong performance against national benchmarks on quality and cost. The latest Association of American Medical Colleges data shows the organization as ranking 90th lowest out of 96 academic medical centers surveyed on patient care expense per discharge, while performing above medians for an array of quality measures such as readmissions, heart attack and pneumonia care. In addition, Vermont’s Act 49 report showed Fletcher Allen’s service area had the lowest rate of Emergency Department visits and the lowest rate of potentially avoidable ED use.  In 2010, Dr. Estes participated in the U.S. Health and Human Services’ national health care summit on health quality and costs to share Fletcher Allen’s successes in this area.
  • Expansion of efforts to prevent health care associated-infections, making it a strategic focus for the organization.  While Fletcher Allen’s baseline rate for infections was already below the national average for academic medical centers, the organization succeeded in bringing it even lower and reducing the rate for some infections by close to 50 percent.
  • In partnership with the University of Vermont, establishment of a state-of-the-art clinical simulation laboratory that allows medical students, medical residents, physicians and nurses, nursing and physical therapy students, as well as community EMTs and Vermont National Guard members, to practice patient care skills in discipline-specific teams. Simulation technology has been shown to positively impact patient safety, health care quality and patient care outcomes.
  • Implementation of an electronic health record in 2009/2010 to improve quality of care and patient safety; successful implementation established the hospital among the nation’s top four percent of hospitals that have a fully-integrated electronic health record system. 
  • Improved patient satisfaction:  in a national survey measuring the patient experience, the percentage of Fletcher Allen’s patients rating their overall experience a 9 or 10 out of 10 increased from 50% in 2007 to 72% in 2010.  In comparison, 66% of participating hospitals reported 9’s and 10’s during the most recent reporting period. 
  • In cardiac care: Fletcher Allen is leading the nation in the rapid treatment of patients who have suffered severe heart attack – not only exceeding the standard of care, but setting the standard for what other hospitals across the country are striving to achieve. We are one of only nine centers in the country funded by the National Institutes of Health to study heart failure and help transfer the findings into the patient care setting.
  • In stroke care: Our Multidisciplinary Stroke Center was awarded the Silver Plus Performance Achievement Award by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in 2010 for providing high-quality, evidence based care.
  • Establishment of the patient-centered Medical Home Project, which has national recognition as a model for chronic disease management and prevention.  Part of the state’s Blueprint for Health program, the project fosters a team approach to improving health outcomes by helping patients with chronic illness better manage their conditions. 
  • In Children’s Health:  Increased philanthropic funds to support the Vermont Children’s Hospital and improve care for sick children throughout the region.
  • Development of a coordinated health system. She has led the effort to affiliate with Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) in Berlin, VT.  Also in 2010, Fletcher Allen announced an affiliation with Inter-Lakes Health in Ticonderoga, New York, marking the third northern New York hospital with whom Fletcher Allen is affiliated.  Alice Hyde Medical Center (Malone, NY) and Canton-Potsdam Hospital (Potsdam, NY) are the others. 
  • New Facilities: Oversaw the building and opening of a new birthing center, central plant, underground parking garage and outpatient cardiology facility in 2004; a new ambulatory care center, emergency department, medical education center and inpatient mental health facility in 2005; an outpatient orthopedic specialty center in 2007; and a new radiation oncology facility in 2010.
  • Renegotiation of our affiliation agreement with the University of Vermont, and has worked closely with leadership at the University to foster greater strategic alignment of the two institutions in support of Vermont’s academic medical center.
  • Establishment of the Fletcher Allen Foundation in January 2007. The Foundation continues Fletcher Allen's long history, tradition and pride in garnering philanthropic support.  Overseen by a board comprising community leaders, opinion makers, business leaders as well as local philanthropists, the Foundation guides the organization's fund-raising efforts in support of Fletcher Allen’s mission.
  • Environmental sustainability: Fletcher Allen is recognized as one of the “greenest” hospitals in the country by Practice Greenhealth, winning its “Leadership Circle Award” for three straight years in 2009, 2010 and 2011. 
  • U.S. Green Building Council recognition: the new radiation oncology facility achieved Gold certification from Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).
  • Support of locally-produced food: the Harvest Café offers healthy, locally-grown food at affordable prices for patients, employees and the public, establishing it as a national model in local foods sustainability.

Prior to joining Fletcher Allen, Dr. Estes served as chief executive officer and chair of the Board of Governors of Cleveland Clinic Florida from 2001 to 2003, and as the executive director of business development at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, and chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Florida, from 2000 to 2001.

Earlier appointments include serving as executive vice president and chief of staff for the MetroHealth System in Cleveland from 1997-2000, and as the associate chief of staff of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 1990-1997.

Dr. Estes has been active in the community, serving on many local boards including the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Flynn Theatre, Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, a board she currently chairs.  She has twice been the keynote speaker at the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” luncheon, and she was honored by the local MS Society with its Hope Award in 2008.  In 2006, just three years after she took the helm, Fletcher Allen was named “Business of the Year” by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2009, Dr. Estes was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Physician Executives” in the nation by Modern Healthcare. She also serves on several national boards and committees, including the boards of the University Healthsystem Consortium and the Council on Teaching Hospitals, and is a member of the Governing Council of the American Hospital Association’s Section for Metropolitan Hospitals.

Dr. Estes earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. She received a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, in 1978, and completed a neurology residency there in 1982. She also was a neuropathology fellow at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 1982-1984 and completed special training in pediatric neuropathology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1984. She is board certified in both neurology and neuropathology. Dr. Estes earned an M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management in 1995.

About Fletcher Allen

Fletcher Allen Health Care, together with our partners at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is Vermont’s academic medical center.  Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve by integrating patient care, education and research in a caring environment.  Fletcher Allen serves as a regional referral center -- providing advanced care to approximately one million people in Vermont and northern New York -- and as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.

  October 01, 2014