“He's got a very great sense of community,” said Wayne Lerner, Brown's longtime friend and colleague. Lerner worked with Brown as president of Jewish Hospital before it merged with Barnes to become Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 1996. “When he puts together organizations, it's to benefit the people we're serving more than anything else,” he said.
It was the union of these three organizations that laid the foundation for what would eventually become BJC HealthCare, which Brown ran for the next seven years as founding CEO and vice chairman. With 13 acute-care hospitals in Missouri and Illinois, BJC was one of the first systems to incorporate teaching hospitals, as well as long-term care and home health services, a medical school and behavioral healthcare into its network. The system has since expanded to serve more than 200,000 residents in the St. Louis area, with a staff of nearly 30,000 at 200 care sites, including hospitals, home-care services, hospice, long-term care facilities, doctors' offices and rehabilitation centers.
“It was probably the first megamerger in not-for-profit healthcare,” said James Francis, assistant treasurer and division chairman of supply chain management at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Francis began his professional training under Brown at Christian Health Services and worked with him at BJC until 1998. “Fred was an innovator. I think he had a tremendous ability to assess the environment to understand where healthcare was headed and to position our organization accordingly,” Francis said.