BJC Health System in St. Louis concluded its protracted search for a new president and chief executive officer last week by naming Steven Lipstein to those posts.
Lipstein, 43, has been executive vice president at University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System for six years. Before that he was at Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore for 10 years.
"It's a terrific opportunity. I'm very excited," he said. He will start his new job Jan. 1.
At 13-hospital BJC, Lipstein replaces Fred Brown, who gave up his post in 1998 to become chairman of the American Hospital Association.
Interim CEO Ed Case, who had been chief operating officer at BJC, will resign. He had been considered for the post.
On Aug. 5, 1998, BJC announced that Brown would step down as CEO and president and become vice chairman of the board. A search was soon launched, but the failure to find a successor in the ensuing months set off a wave of rumors in the industry. One published account in St. Louis claimed that four people had been offered the job and turned it down.
John Dubinsky, chairman of the BJC board and a banker, said that "these world-class academic health centers are unique places. The search process takes a while." BJC had hoped it would take less time, but under the circumstances, "it probably didn't take longer than we should have expected."
Lipstein, Dubinsky said, was the only candidate the search committee presented to the board. The committee interviewed 40 people over 10 months.
"We were trying to explore with (candidates) how interested they were in the job. We wanted to make sure that if we went to the ultimate extreme of pursuing somebody, they were as interested as we were," Dubinsky said. Some candidates dropped out because of family issues; others received raises from their employers to stay at their jobs, he said.
BJC's main campus includes 927-bed Barnes-Jewish Hospital, one of the premier teaching hospitals in the U.S., and Washington University Medical School. Most of the rest of the system consists of community hospitals and private-practice physicians.