St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children today announced a change in leadership as Don Mueller shared his plans to resign from his role as president and CEO. Robert Brooks, the current chief operating officer (COO) at St. Christopher’s, will transition during the coming months into the role of president and COO. Mueller will remain CEO throughout the leadership transition, and he will work closely with Brooks and the St. Christopher’s Leadership Team to ensure a smooth process.

“We are grateful for Don’s contributions to St. Christopher’s throughout his tenure. We understand this decision was driven by a desire to spend more time with his family and know he will continue to influence and champion pediatrics,” said P. Sue Perrotty, president and CEO of Tower Health. “While there’s much work ahead, it’s an exciting time as St. Chris has rallied community support for its life-saving mission, recruited talented physicians to bolster key service lines, and led significant investments in the hospital’s facilities, equipment, and programs.”

Mueller is joining Siskin Children’s Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn., a non-profit organization that provides diagnostic services and treatment for children with special needs and their families. 

Mueller noted that supporting the life-saving mission of St. Christopher’s has been the honor of a lifetime, saying, “Joining at the pandemic's peak, I witnessed firsthand the unwavering commitment and resilience of this organization. I am deeply grateful for our dedicated staff, and for the steadfast partnership of Tower Health and Drexel University; Governor Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Secretary of Human Services Valerie Arkoosh; Senators Vincent Hughes and Christine Tartaglione; Representatives Matt Bradford and Jordan Harris; Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia Councilmember Quetcy Lozada and her Council colleagues; and community partners who have stepped up to support St. Chris. Together, we've achieved a measure of financial stability and further enhanced the hospital’s already-excellent clinical quality. With this strong foundation, I’m confident this is the right time for this transition. Given Rob’s impressive track record across several major healthcare organizations, I know he’s the perfect person to lead the hospital into the future."

Brooks, a seasoned healthcare executive with an impressive track record leading large health systems and pediatric hospitals, brings more than 20 years of experience to his new position. Starting his healthcare career as a critical care registered nurse and flight nurse, Rob has extensive leadership experience including roles as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Erlanger Health System, CEO of St. Cloud Regional Medical Center, and COO of Central Mississippi Medical Center. During his time at Erlanger, he was responsible for operational and growth strategies, managing over 8,000 employees, and spearheading a successful $40 million fundraising campaign for the system’s children's hospital.

“Since joining St. Christopher’s in August, I have seen firsthand how irreplaceable this institution is as a vital provider of patient care and community engagement initiatives, along with serving as an anchor research and medical training hub,” Brooks said. “It’s a distinct privilege to step into this new role, and I’m incredibly excited to work closely with our renowned care team and support staff to continue to strengthen our community mission.” 

With more than 80% of its patients eligible for Medicaid, St. Christopher’s serves the highest proportion of Medicaid patients of any freestanding children’s hospital in the country. Given that Medicaid reimbursements fall short of covering the complete care costs, the hospital's leadership innovatively combines diverse funding strategies, drawing support from governmental bodies, local entities, and civic champions to bridge this substantial financial divide.

"St. Christopher’s is not only a premier teaching hospital for medical students, residents, and nurses, but also a civic treasure for Philadelphia and, above all, a mission-driven institution that delivers the highest-quality pediatric care to families in North Philadelphia and across the region," said Drexel University President John Fry. “Don Mueller has played a key role in restoring optimism and guiding the hospital onto the path of long-term financial health. I am extremely confident that under Rob’s leadership, St. Chris will continue growing ever more innovative and financially secure while upholding the highest standards in pediatric medicine." 

Founded in 1875, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children is a leader in pediatric care, providing high-quality and accessible care to children in the Greater Philadelphia area and beyond. With over 2,000 care providers and support staff, the hospital serves as one of only three Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centers in Pennsylvania, has the only verified pediatric burn unit between Manhattan and Baltimore, and is a vibrant training and research center for medical students and residents. The pediatric dental fellowship is the largest on the East Coast.

St. Christopher’s flagship programs, community initiatives, and partnerships exemplify its commitment to Philadelphia’s future. The hospital's impact extends beyond its walls, with programs addressing food insecurity providing over 100,000 meals last year. An innovative partnership with Reach Out and Read continues to supply books to children at well visits – 800,000 books donated since 2001, available in 15 languages.

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