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Dr. Pate’s Prescription for Change

St. Luke’s Health System’s Journey to Transform Health Care

St. Luke’s Dr. Pate shares blessings and says goodbye to the team

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
January 28, 2020

Editor’s note: What follows is a letter St. Luke’s Health System President and CEO Dr. David Pate shared with employees of the organization on Jan. 24. Dr. Pate told the St. Luke’s team in November that he would be retiring at the end of January; his last day as head of the health system will be Friday, Jan. 31. At the time that Dr. Pate announced his retirement, long-time St. Luke’s executive and Chief Operating Officer Chris Roth was announced as his replacement.


I find myself feeling very sentimental as I write my last note to you today.

As I prepare to enter the next phase of my life, it is with tremendous gratitude that I thank each and every one of you for what you do for St. Luke’s, for our patients and for our community. You all are incredible people and professionals. It is amazing all that we have accomplished together.

I have often said that we must design the health system that we want for ourselves because the chances are overwhelming that one of us, our family members or someone else we care about will need care from us.

All five of my living grandchildren were born at St. Luke’s. Two of my granddaughters who did not survive to birth were cared for at St. Luke’s. Even in our despair over the loss of these two precious babies, we received amazing care – and amazing caring – from our staff, physicians and hospital chaplains.

My son-in-law received excellent emergency care at St. Luke’s McCall. My wife received wonderful care and attention at St. Luke’s Magic Valley. One of my grandsons got outstanding care at St. Luke’s Children’s. I had my knee replaced at St. Luke’s Meridian. More recently, my wife became a cancer survivor after treatment through what was then St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, now St. Luke’s Cancer Institute.

So this has always been more than a job for me. It has been personal. I have also kept in mind, every day, that there are many other people’s children, grandchildren, spouses and loved ones that we are incredibly honored to care for throughout our health system.

This is why it is so important to me that we have become a national leader in quality. It is not the award or the recognition that comes with it. It is the fact that, because of our improvements, complications have been avoided and lives have been saved, perhaps the lives of our friends, family and neighbors.

We do incredibly important and meaningful work. Everyone contributes to that work and our ability to deliver this special care. Our building services, groundskeepers and environmental services team members help to ensure we have an appealing, clean and safe environment for our patients to recover in and their families to visit. Our food services personnel make a huge difference to patients during their recovery from surgery or illness, when proper nutrition is essential. Our registration colleagues make sure patients get checked in and directed to the correct location.

I could go on and on. No matter what your role at St. Luke’s, you contribute to the great care and caring we provide to our communities, and I appreciate you.

I’d like to leave you with these thoughts and requests.

  • It is a great privilege for us to do work that impacts so many people’s lives. Keep in mind that while a task may be routine or you may feel rushed, this may be the biggest thing in the life of the patient or family member that you are interacting with. Always find time to care and be compassionate.
  • Never settle. Complacency is our enemy. No matter how good we are, we must always strive to get better and achieve excellence.
  • Support each other and lift each other up. As we come to work every day, some of us are dealing with challenges, disappointments and struggles. This is hard work. It is demanding work, and it can take a lot out of us. Recognize each other for good work. Support each other through life’s challenges. Care for one another so that we can care for our patients.
  • Finally, pray for Chris. Over the years, I have felt and greatly appreciated the many prayers you have offered on my behalf. No one knows the magnitude of the pressures and challenges of this role until they are in it. Chris will be faced with those pressures and challenges. Pray for wisdom.

It has been a tremendous privilege and honor for me to lead St. Luke’s for these past 10 years. I will cherish the memories, I will miss you all very much and I will always be proud of you. I will be on the sidelines cheering your future success and all the great things you will be doing to make health care even better in each of our communities.

God bless each of you.


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.