Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readAug 31, 2018


I usually use this space to opine about politics and culture, but today I want to discuss two outstanding hospital administrators — one of whom is from my home state of New Jersey — that have just been thrust into major positions on a national level.

Dr. Melinda Estes, who has done an amazing job at CEO of St. Luke’s Health System — a 16-hospital, not-forprofit, faith-based care network — is now chair-elect designate of the American Hospital Association’s board of trustees, with her set to become chairwoman in 2020.

Dr. Estes is known for being especially excellent at working with physicians, and had this to say in the official press release announcement:

“As a physician leader, I look forward to working with hospitals and health systems across the country as they continue to drive the transformation of care that improves the lives of patients and advances health in America.”

Dr. Estes has a long and storied history of success everywhere she has been.

Before taking over at St Luke’s in 2011, Dr. Estes demonstrated her terrific instincts as a hospital administrator as president and CEO of Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., and as chief medical officer and CEO of Cleveland Clinic Florida.

It was working at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation where Dr. Estes really built up her name and reputation.

As Associate Chief of Staff at Cleveland Clinic Foundation from 1990 to 1997, Dr. Estes managed human resource issues for more than 700 group-practice physicians. It was at the beginning of that tenure in 1990 that Dr. Estes became the first woman to be elected to Cleveland Clinic’s Board of Governors, a nine-member executive management group whose mission was to shape the future of the Clinic. Throughout her seven years with Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Estes proved to be exceptional in multiple ways, serving not only as head of neuropathology — a position that garnered her multiple awards -but she also managed to publish over 100 scientific papers.

She is a credit to her profession, as is the man she will be succeeding, Brian Gragnolati.

Gragnolati will become Chairman of the AHA in 2019, so he will assume the post next and then be followed by Dr. Estes.

I am especially excited to see the work Gragnolati will do on a national level,, since I have watched in amazement at the results he has achieved in my home state of New Jersey.

As President and CEO of Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., Grangnolati did a terrific job of managing an integrated health care delivery system with 16,000 employees and 350 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital. Atlantic Health System also supports communities through Atlantic Medical Group, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, Atlantic Home Care and Hospice, and its subsidiary, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation.

Prior to taking over at Atlantic Health System in 2015, Gragnolati was senior vice president, community division, at Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) in Baltimore, Md, as well as president and CEO of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., for 12 years, and four years as president and CEO of WellSpan Health in York, Pa.

His phenomenal track record speaks for itself, but he Gragnolati still had plenty to say in regards to his excitement about becoming Chairman of the AHA Board of Trustees:

“More than ever, now is a critically important and exciting time to be a leader in the health care field as we drive the transformation of care in America. I look forward to working with the AHA’s members across the country in support of the association’s mission to advance the health of individuals and communities.”

The AHA is an incredibly vital organization since it is a not-for-profit association with almost 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care and 43,000 individual members.

Having somebody not only competent but elite at hospital management is of the utmost importance for the AHA, because it must be run with maximum efficiency and with the highest levels of innovation.

And with the two choices the organization has made to run the Board of Trustees in 2019 and 2020, they have ensured that maximum efficiency and high levels of innovation is precisely what they will get.