Dr. Pate, St. Luke's Health System

Dr. David Pate’s introduction to health care was bracing. He recalls being the only boy on a career day visit to his Ohio hometown hospital – and fainting at his first sight of blood. “All the girls got a big laugh out of that,” he said. “I never heard the end of it.”

Curiosity and persistence won out, however, and he went on, to Rice University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry; Baylor College of Medicine, where he received his M.D.; a residency in internal medicine; and the University of Houston Law Center, where he earned his law degree cum laude.

Dr. Pate was named president and chief executive officer of St. Luke’s Health System in Idaho in 2009 after a decade as a practicing internist and 14 years in executive positions with St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Health Network and Health System. All are affiliated with the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world.

It was the generous spirit of Idaho and the legacy of St. Luke’s Health System that made the opportunity to come north too good to pass up.

Dr. Pate is leading St. Luke’s during a period of unprecedented change in health care in the United States. Under his guidance, St. Luke’s repeatedly has been named among the best health systems in the country by top quality organizations.

He’s the first to observe, however, that it’s the talented people of St. Luke’s who provide the compassionate care for which the organization is known and sought.

“St. Luke’s physicians are world class,” he said. “St. Luke’s nurses are the best, bar none. Everyone from our food and nutrition staff to our gardeners to our desktop technicians, every single team member goes out of the way to keep patients and their families at the center of everything we do.”

Along with the State of Idaho itself, St. Luke’s Health System is one of the state’s largest employers, and Dr. Pate feels passionately that the St. Luke’s team does its best work when it’s engaged and empowered. That’s why he and the executive team have invested heavily to ensure that St. Luke’s staff gets the best training and tools possible.

“The quality of life in our region is a powerful draw, but we also need to ensure our folks have the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers with St. Luke’s,” he said. “We’ve developed terrific partnerships and collaborative relationships with schools and colleges throughout our area, and I’m proud of the innovative approaches we’re seeing through those efforts.”

Partnerships and relationships are something St. Luke’s, and St. Luke’s patients, benefit from in other ways as well. St. Luke’s works with Saint Alphonsus Health System, other area hospitals and health organizations and more than 100 community partners on initiatives that support community health.

St. Luke’s Community Health Improvement Fund grants help to seed initiatives identified in the organization’s Community Health Needs Assessments as opportunities for improved community wellbeing and help to build a stronger support system outside hospital walls.

“It’s so gratifying to see the pieces of the health puzzle come together, and I’m not sure it would be as tangible or effective in an area where there are millions of people and possibly, fewer ways to make an impact,” Dr. Pate said. “I feel a real responsibility to steward a priceless community asset that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Our patients, their families, our staff and this community – you add those factors up, and you just know you have a very powerful force for good.

“I feel very, very blessed to be a part of the life and health of this community.”