Sister Mary Jean Ryan is stepping down from her role as president of SSM Health Care, St. Louis, effective Aug. 1, though she will retain her position as CEO and add the title of chairwoman of the board of directors at the 15-hospital Roman Catholic system.
Meanwhile, William Thompson, 58, will become president and chief operating officer of SSM, taking on day-to-day leadership of the system on Aug. 1 and transitioning into the title of CEO over the next two years. Thompson currently serves as senior vice president of strategic development.
Ryan, 71, is the only person who has served as president and CEO of SSM since the organization's creation in 1986. She was named one of Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Powerful executives in healthcare in 2003, the year after SSM won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and she has remained on the list every year since then.
Ryan joins more than a dozen healthcare executives who have announced career transition plans in the past several weeks, as financial pressures and pending legislative changes turn up the heat on healthcare leadership teams across the country.