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Arnold School of Public Health


HSPM alumnus Travis Capers named president of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis

February 26, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

After a nationwide search, Arnold School alumnus Travis Capers has been selected as the new president of SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. His new role, which begins March 28, will involve establishing, maintaining and enhancing quality health care services at the 492-bed hospital.

As he transitions to this new position with SSM Health, Capers is wrapping up his tenure as chief executive officer for the New Orleans-based Ochsner Medical Center, which is part of a not for-profit health care system. During his four years there, the American College of Healthcare Executives Fellow has overseen the strategy and operations of the 181-bed, acute care hospital and its five satellite facilities along with its 900-person staff of 600 medical providers and $168 million operating budget.

Prior to his work with Ochsner, Capers spent eight years as chief operating officer for Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville. In these roles, he has led successful initiatives that enhanced high-quality care and service, such as physician alignment, increased market share, improved operating margin, and service excellence.

Capers also spent time at hospitals in Tallahassee, Fla. and Chicago, but he got his start in Columbia. A 1996 graduate of the Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) program in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Capers earned his undergraduate degree (B.S. in Business Administration) at Carolina as well. He credits his Arnold School experiences with prepping him for his career.

“The MHA program was instrumental in preparing me early on in my career,” he says. “The professors instilled invaluable lessons on how to influence and manage change in order to navigate day-to-day operations, and I also learned a great deal regarding strategic planning and the importance of serving your community.”

One of Capers’ professors was particularly influential—Distinguished Professor Emerita Saundra Glover. "Dr. Glover has been my mentor since I was an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina,” says the Boys Club Advisory Board Member. “She introduced me to the MHA program and connected me with a field that allows me to fulfill my passion of service. Over the last 19 years, I have reached out to Dr. Glover and she has always made herself available to give advice and guidance. Dr. Glover influenced me by being a leader that was willing to support and provide direction.  She always had high expectations, which allowed me to develop a gift of being a service leader to others.”

The respect is mutual. “I recruited Travis into our MHA program, and his success is a testament to our mission in preparing the next generation of health care leaders,” says Glover. “I knew from our first conversation that Travis embodied the qualities of an effective leader and that those leadership qualities, along with our MHA degree, would be the basis of his success. He has not proven me wrong. He has remained humble and dedicated to developing and implementing programs and system level policies that have advanced health care at the local, state, and national levels. His leadership in improving the lives of individuals and communities he has touched is exemplary.”