Head of CHI St. Luke’s Health resigns, the fourth executive to leave Texas Medical Center this year

Michael Covert's resignation as CEO of CHI St. Luke’s Health in Houston brings the number of executives who have left the Texas Medical Center in the last few months to four.

The turmoil continues at Texas Medical Center as yet another hospital CEO has resigned, the second departure by a leader within the organization in a week and the fourth executive to leave in the last four months.

Michael Covert

Michael Covert, CEO of CHI St. Luke’s Health in Houston, a member of the Catholic Health Initiatives system, resigned earlier this week effective Aug. 31, the Houston Chronicle reports. Hospital officials have yet to name an interim leader, according to the article.

Covert’s resignation follows the abrupt departure last week of Benjamin Chu, M.D., who left nearly a year after taking the job as president and CEO of the Memorial Hermann Health System. Both CHI St. Luke’s and Memorial Hermann are member institutions of the Texas Medical Center.

But he’s also the fourth leader in four months to leave a Texas Medical Center. Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, left in March and Robert C. Robbins, M.D., CEO of Texas Medical Center, resigned in April to become president of the University of Arizona.

RELATED: Memorial Hermann CEO Benjamin Chu steps down a year after taking the job

Hospital officials reportedly notified CHI St. Luke’s Health employees about Covert’s resignation via email but didn’t indicate the reason for his departure and have yet to issue a formal announcement. Covert declined to comment to the Houston Chronicle.

However, last year during a presentation at the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress, Covert talked about the revolving door of healthcare chief executive officers. He warned healthcare leaders of the challenges, which involve learning and adapting to a new corporate culture and taking the time to know its hospitals, boards, region and people who work for the organization and within the community.

RELATED: Dos and don'ts for the CEO when moving to a new position, organization

Covert joined CHI St. Luke’s in 2014 after spending 12 years as CEO at Palomar Health in San Diego. When he started, CHI St. Luke's had five hospitals and a joint venture with Baylor, an academic medical center. But since he took over, the system has grown to include 17 hospitals.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle last week, Covert gave no indication he planned to leave the organization. Covert, asked about recent layoffs of more than 450 employees, told the publication the system grew ”very quickly.” He indicated that the future of healthcare in Houston would focus on smaller regional centers.

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