While at Methodist, Brown moved up to become vice president of operations in 1972. After two years, he left to accept a position as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in suburban Chicago. Six years later, Brown became vice president and COO of Elmhurst's parent company, Memorial Health Services, now Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare.
His first opportunity to run an entire operation came in 1983 when he became president and CEO of St. Louis-based, CH Allied Services. The company was developed as part of Christian Health Services as a management services firm that leased and managed five hospitals in the St. Louis area. Those hospitals eventually became part of BJC.
Soon, Brown began receiving recognition as a leader in healthcare management. In 1990, he was named Healthcare Executive of the Year by the American Academy of Medical Administrators, and received the academy's Statesman in Healthcare Administration Award two years later. In 2000, Brown won a Gold Medal Award, the highest distinction from the American College of Healthcare Executives, and also was the recipient of the American Hospital Association's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 2008.
Though his roles have changed over the years, those who know him best say it was the basic leadership lessons Brown learned early in his career that became his trademark—a collaborative, inclusive approach to management. It has been an approach that Brown has spent most of his career seeking to instill in the many healthcare leaders he has mentored over the years.
“I think everyone needs someone who believes in them, and Fred was big in helping me understand that I should have the confidence to go do whatever it is I wanted to do,” said Sarah Woodrum, a former colleague at BJC who is now senior associate dean and chief administrative officer at West Virginia University. “So I have tried to give back as a result of what Fred gave to me.”
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