Ryan Gehrig, a former student of Subiaco Academy, has been named the new president of St. Edward Mercy Health in Fort Smith. His first official day on the job is April 9.
Gehrig, 39, is the replacement for former Mercy CEO Jeff Johnston who began Sept. 1 as the president of St. John’s Mercy in St. Louis — the largest hospital among the 28 in the St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy network.
“We couldn’t be happier than to have our new president joining us at such an exciting time in Mercy’s history in Fort Smith,” Kim Day, president of Mercy’s Arkansas communities and interim president of St. Edward Mercy, said in a statement. “After spending six months on a very deliberate search, it’s great to have found a leader that’s not only highly qualified but the right fit for this community.”
Gehrig will report to Day, who is based in Springfield, Mo.
“Mr. Day will continue to be involved in Fort Smith going forward and will be working closely with the new president to ensure a smooth transition,” noted Laura Keep, spokeswoman for Mercy in Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas.
Gehrig most recently worked at Norman, Okla., for the Norman Regional Health System where he was vice-president of enterprise systems and chief administrative officer for Moore Medical Center — one of the health system’s three hospital facilities. His past work also includes COO of Wesley Medical Center in Hattiesburg, Miss.; CEO of Bristow Medical Center; and COO of Cushing Regional Hospital as part of Hillcrest Healthcare System in Tulsa.
He also attended Subiaco Academy for four years (9th-12th grades), and is the president of the Subiaco alumni association.
“It’s really a pleasure to be moving back to the River Valley,” Gehrig said in the statement. “I’ve always admired Mercy’s health care ministry. They are both compassionate in their care and innovative in their approach. I’m anxious to get my feet on the ground and get to know the physicians and co-workers as well as become involved in the community.”
The new St. Edward chief will come aboard shortly before the Fort Smith hospital system converts to a new name and logo. The branding change begins April 30 as part of a move by the St. Louis-based Mercy system to “create a more meaningful and unified identity” with Mercy facilities in 100 communities.
The name and logo change also comes as the hospital system — the eighth largest Catholic health system in the U.S. — is underway on a 10-year, $4.8 billion capital expenditure plan to improve and expand operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Gehrig earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University and a master’s in health care administration from Trinity University. Gehrig and his wife, Kristen have two children – Alyssa, 6 and Drew, 5. They are expecting a baby girl in mid-March.
The St. Edward Mercy Health System operates the main hospital campus in Fort Smith and three critical access hospitals in Waldron, Paris and Ozark as well as Mercy Clinic with 10 locations and more than 85 providers. It employs more than 2,100 and has a service area of more than 400,000 people in 13 counties in Arkansas and Oklahoma.