Baptist CEO Set to Retire Next May

By Michael Waddell

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. President and CEO Stephen Reynolds will retire next May, with Jason Little, Baptist’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, taking over as the hospital system’s next president and CEO.

Outgoing Baptist Memorial Health Care President and CEO Stephen Reynolds, left, with incoming President and CEO Jason Little.

(Trey Clark)

“I’ve been fortunate to be part of a great team ever since I walked in the doors in 1971,” said Reynolds, who fondly recalls working alongside former Baptist CEOs Dr. Frank Groner and Joseph Powell. “I’ve found it to be a wonderful opportunity to serve others. I guess I feel my biggest accomplishment was being fortunate enough to be asked to serve on the leadership team here at Baptist. I’ve learned from some of the very best, get to know some of the finest physicians that have ever practiced medicine, and take care of people from all walks of life.”

When Reynolds joined Baptist in 1971, the hospital was considered to be the largest private hospital in the world, operating from one main facility and a small rehab center on Crump Boulevard. During the late 1970s, Baptist began developing into a regional hospital system that today includes 14 hospitals.

“It’s been exciting to be a part of the distribution of health care throughout the metropolitan Memphis community, as well as in Arkansas, Mississippi and other parts of Tennessee,” said Reynolds, who grew up in Little Rock and saw two of his three daughters born at Baptist. “We gave patients what they wanted – care delivered closer to home.”

During his career at Baptist, Reynolds served as a patient advocate and worked in the brace and orthotics department. He witnessed growth over the years in how care is delivered, including the introduction of minor medical centers, diagnostic centers and outpatient surgery centers.

“When I came to Baptist, I think 15 percent of surgery was performed on an outpatient basis, and I think today it is nearly 80 percent that are performed on an outpatient basis,” he said.

Other highlights for Reynolds from the past 40-plus years include the opening of Baptist Hospital-Memphis (formerly Baptist East) in 1979 and the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in 2001.

“The women’s hospital has just announced plans to build a new pediatric emergency room and expand our pediatric services there,” said Reynolds, who is also excited about the new rehab hospital that is being constructed on Germantown Parkway. “It should open sometime next year, as will our brand-new cancer center on the Baptist Memphis campus.”

Baptist just opened a new $400 million replacement hospital and cancer center in Jonesboro, Ark., last week.

“We’ve also developed wonderful services in Union City, Tenn.; Huntington, Tenn.; Covington, Tenn.; Collierville and DeSoto County,” Reynolds said. “We’ve also just invested in a new fitness center at the Kroc Center, and we just launched the development of a new $250 million replacement hospital in Oxford, Miss.”

In the past few years, Reynolds oversaw the rapid growth of Baptist Medical Group, which has increased from 40 physicians to more than 500.

“This gives us an expanded opportunity to partner with physicians to focus on how we can improve the quality and efficiency of care,” said Reynolds, who also cites Baptist’s partnership with Select Health Alliance as important in providing the best care available to patients. “The most important thing is that we have not lost sight of the original mission of the organization that was crafted in 1906, and that mission parallels the three-fold mission of Christ – healing, preaching and teaching.”

Under his leadership, Baptist also opened Baptist Trinity Hospice House in Collierville, the area’s first residential hospice facility, and the Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief.

“Baptist’s growth and accomplishments during his tenure as president and CEO have been extraordinary,” said Jim Glasgow, chair of Baptist’s corporate board of directors, in a prepared statement.

Reynolds’ successor, Jason Little, has worked with Baptist since 2002. Before being appointed execuive vice president and COO, he served as vice president and metro market leader, overseeing Baptist’s seven metro Memphis hospitals and NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro. Little serves on the boards of the Tennessee Hospital Association, Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Church Health Center and the American Heart Association.

He also is a member of the University of Tennessee alumni board and is the incoming chairman of the New Memphis Institute board.