January 26, 2012

Nancy Solomon

Ron Levy Preaches What He Practiced

Public Health Executive-in-Residence Sees Role as a Dream Job

The School of Public Health's executive-in-residence - a man who led the SSM St. Louis health system and most recently served as Missouri's director of social services - says fixing our broken healthcare system is a monumental task that needs to be addressed immediately.

Ron Levy

Yet, after working with SLU public health students, Ron Levy is optimistic.

"The U.S. has the best doctors, best research and best technology in the world. However we don't have the best delivery system. It's significantly more expensive and our outcomes aren't as good," Levy said.

"The health system needs leaders of the future to reshape and reframe the system, and after spending time with our public health students, I'm really optimistic. They're impressive -- smart, engaged in class, not afraid to ask really hard questions. They have an understanding of the complexities of the health care system and health care delivery. These are going to be the future leaders in health policy, health management and health law."

Familiar with SLU

Levy is no stranger to SLU. He has given guest lectures and otherwise been involved with the School of Public Health for many years. He had worked closely with the School of Medicine as a member of the leadership team of SSM St. Louis.

He brings to SLU his passion for improving access to health care, protecting the safety net and fostering a generation of ethical leaders.

"Leadership revolves around relationships built on trust and personal and professional integrity. When all is said and done, no matter what you do, what you decide, all you have left is your integrity," Levy said.

Part of Levy's role as executive-in-residence is coaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. He also works with the dean on strategies to continue to move the School of Public Health forward and with faculty, who he describes as energetic, bright and impressive.

Value-added education

"I'm here to supplement and support the faculty, dean and students any way I can. It's really a dream job," Levy says.

He enhances what students are learning by adding a stiff dose of reality to the health policy and management theories taught in classes. Levy sits in on classes, gives special lectures and offers real world case studies to enrich the curriculum.

He draws upon 35 years of health care experience in the private sector - a profession he entered as a rural Wisconsin hospital administrator and left as president and chief executive officer for SSM St. Louis, which employs 11,000 and has a revenue base of $1 billion. He also taps into experiences from his former role in the public sector as health policy advisor for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Health Information Technology Coordinator for Missouri and director of the Missouri Department of Social Services. And he applies lessons learned through his advocacy work with the National Health Policy Forum, Missouri Foundation for Health and St. Louis Regional Health Commission.

In a nutshell, he preaches what he's practiced.

"It's taking your experience and knowledge and continuing to build on it, while working with very bright and committed people," Levy said.

"To be at this stage of my career, being able to share my experience is very rewarding and makes me aware of how fortunate I've been to have had all of these incredible experiences, opportunities and relationships with colleagues and great mentors. Giving back by sharing what I've learned over the years makes this truly a dream job."

Read about Ron Levy's recent award from the Missouri Hospital Association.

Learn about other new faculty in the School of Public Health.

Read about the School of Public Health's first endowed chair.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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