John Koster, M.D., has been named president and chief executive officer of Seattle-based Providence Health System after serving for the last six months in an interim capacity in those key roles, officials of the far-flung 19-hospital system announced Tuesday.
Koster, an internist, takes over after holding primary responsibility for system operations as a top officer since joining Providence in April 1997. He was the system's executive vice president and chief operating officer before being named to the interim job in early March to replace Hank Walker, who spent about seven years as president and CEO before leaving on a sabbatical in October 2003 that led to his retirement.
Koster's connection with Providence, however, stretches back to the mid-1970s, when he completed his internship at Providence Portland Medical Center.
"We are pleased to have John continue to further the mission, vision and direction of Providence in these very challenging times for healthcare in the United States," said Barbara Schamber, the presiding member of the system's sponsoring organization, Sisters of Providence. "John well understands and is committed to the organization's mission and core values, seeing that all that is undertaken is done in order to serve the people entrusted to our care."
Before joining Providence, Koster was with VHA, the Irving, Texas-based network of healthcare organizations and physicians, where he was responsible for membership and business-product development as vice president for targeted member services. He also has served as vice president of Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, N.M., and as senior vice president of Rocky Mountain Healthcare Corp., which manages the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.
Koster, board-certified in internal medicine, was in private practice with a multispecialty medical group from 1979 to 1988. He earned his medical degree from the University of New Mexico after receiving a bachelor's degree from New Mexico Tech.
As the top official at Providence, Koster will oversee operations across a four-state area: Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. In addition to 19 acute-care hospitals, the system of 34,000 employees has 19 free-standing long-term care facilities and works closely with a network of physician organizations and sponsored health plans covering more than 606,000 members in Oregon and southwest Washington.