December 18, 2023
Hospital district’s new leader to begin work Jan. 29, 2024
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Dr. Lee will participate in a virtual news conference with local media on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 10 a.m. CST. Contact Mike Clark-Madison (info above, text preferred) to reserve a spot and get the link.
Dr. Patrick Lee, right, addresses attendees at a Central Health Community Conversation on November 28.
Austin – Central Health announced Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, that Patrick Lee, MD, a practicing internal medicine physician, healthcare executive and most recently System Chairman of Medicine for One Brooklyn Health in New York, will be the new President & CEO of Travis County’s hospital district.
Voters created Central Health in 2004, and the hospital district will celebrate its 20th anniversary in July. The district provides healthcare services, access, and coverage to more than 152,000 people with low income in Travis County.
“I am inspired by the people of Central Health and the tremendous opportunity ahead of us,” said Dr. Lee. “I am joining an organization full of people whose values I share and whose commitment to healthcare justice I recognize and honor. The organization has numerous strengths and broad experience in partnership and community engagement. The people of Travis County have entrusted Central Health with rare gifts: strong financial support, a broad mandate to improve health for all, and the freedom to focus on what matters most – ensuring every patient receives the excellent whole-person care they need and want without delay.”
Dr. Lee was chosen by Central Health’s Board of Managers after a six-month national search including multiple consultations with the community. The board’s ad hoc Succession Committee, chaired by Ann Kitchen, shepherded the process of finding a successor to President & CEO Mike Geeslin. Other members of the Succession Committee include board Vice Chair Dr. Cynthia Brinson, Amit Motwani, and Dr. Guadalupe Zamora.
“Dr. Lee is exactly the right person to lead Central Health at this moment in time,” said Kitchen, who is the incoming chair of the Board of Managers. “As a practicing physician, he understands and cares for patients who’ve faced historical barriers accessing healthcare. His clinical expertise combined with his proven innovative approach will help Central Health implement our Healthcare Equity Plan and build a better safety-net healthcare system in Travis County. This is our commitment to Travis County, and I can’t wait for the community and our partners to get to know Pat and to work with him.”
Said Dr. Lee, “If we can deliver on this mandate – and I believe we can – then we will lead the transformation of the healthcare system in Travis County. We will go first when someone needs to take the first step. We will set the standard of excellence and inspire and assist others to join us as we raise the bar. We will make good on the trust invested in us. With deep listening, focus, and strong partnerships, we will aim to significantly reduce health disparities in Travis County on my watch. This is why I am so honored to serve as Central Health’s next President & CEO. I look forward to working with all of you” said Lee.
Geeslin, who has led Central Health since 2017, announced in April his plans to depart by year’s end; his last day as CEO will be Dec. 31. This is in keeping with his intention, as he told the board when he was hired, to serve in the CEO role for five to seven years. During Geeslin’s tenure, Central Health has grown significantly and reached many organizational milestones:
Implementation of the Healthcare Equity Plan adopted in 2022 is under way; Central Health expects to bring forward around 150 projects, and more than $680 million in incremental new investment, over the next seven years to create a high-functioning, comprehensive safety net system in Travis County.
One of Geeslin’s major priorities was to create new health and wellness centers in long-underserved Eastern Travis County communities, which became a reality with Hornsby Bend’s grand opening this past October.
Central Health’s first direct provision of medical services also aims to reduce health inequities; three multispecialty clinic sites in East Austin provide urgently needed specialty care to patients with low income, including members of Central Health’s Medical Access Program (MAP).
About Dr. Lee
Dr. Lee most recently served as the inaugural System Chairman of Medicine for One Brooklyn Health (OBH), a safety-net health system in central Brooklyn serving over one million New York City residents, leading 11 clinical divisions with more than 500 practitioners, working at three hospitals and 27 ambulatory care sites. Dr. Lee was the key leader uniting medical staff at the three formerly independent hospitals, and recruiting additional providers in multiple specialties, into an efficient and comprehensive provider group serving a community with the highest level of health disparities in New York.
Prior to OBH, Dr. Lee was Chairman of Medicine at Mass General Brigham Salem Hospital north of Boston, which during his tenure responded to the highest COVID-19 patient volume among community hospitals in Massachusetts, saving the lives of more than 1,200 patients during the early months of the pandemic. Before that, Dr. Lee developed the Global Primary Care Residency Program at Massachusetts General and a global health course at Harvard Medical School, both informed by his early career work with Dr. Paul Farmer in Rwanda and as Medical Director of Last Mile Health in Liberia, a nonprofit partner of the nation’s Ministry of Health.
Dr. Lee is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and received further training at both Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical School. He has written on improving primary care health systems, quality improvement, and medical education for publications including The Lancet, BMJ Quality, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and the Journal of Graduate Medical Education.