BJC HealthCare president and CEO Rich Liekweg is the recipient of the 2022 Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) Visionary Leadership Award. Liekweg was recognized for guiding BJC’s important and impactful community health improvement (CHI) work.
The MHA Visionary Leadership Award recognizes innovative initiatives that improve the health, clinical and safety outcomes of the patients and communities they serve. The award is presented to a Missouri hospital or health system chief executive whose organization has demonstrated sustained improvements in those areas.
Liekweg was cited for addressing health care inequity and its root causes in the BJC service area and making BJC’s community health improvement (CHI) effort an integral part of BJC’s infrastructure.
According to BJC community health partnerships and collaboration director Doneisha Bohannon, who nominated Liekweg, he also has challenged BJC leadership and employees to stand against inequity, work toward inclusion and commit to improving community health.
“Rich lives and works by the philosophy that with privilege comes enormous responsibility,” says Bohannon. “He challenges his employees and fellow community leaders to live this way, too.”
Upon accepting the award, Liekweg said, "Our BJC journey, and my passion in helping to lead our work, has been informed, shaped and elevated because of the experiences, the vulnerability, the crucial conversations, the lessons that so many of our diverse and underrepresented colleagues and patients have courageously shared — calling out implicit and unconscious biases, and intentional and unintentional structural barriers to inclusion and equity, that exist within BJC and across our community. We are better because of our diversity and inclusion — and we will do better as we stay focused on health care and health equity for all."
The nomination called out BJC strategic initiatives in the areas of infant and maternal health, financial well-being, healthy food access and diabetes education, and school health and wellness, noting that BJC has positioned itself as an anchor institution and proactive partner in effecting positive community change.
“Rich understands and believes that impacting health outcomes and truly improving quality of life for individuals and the overall community must begin long before individuals arrive at a hospital in need of care for a chronic medical condition or physical trauma,” says Bohannon. "We must meet community residents where they are to gain their trust, helping them move toward greater autonomy and improved health and wellness, while addressing and working to eliminate decades of health inequities."
Liekweg became BJC CEO in 2018. He joined the organization in 2012 as president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
He received the Visionary Leadership Award Nov. 3 at the MHA’s 100th annual convention at Lake of the Ozarks. See this brief video from MHA sharing the thoughts of local leaders and community members about Rich Liekweg and the impact of BJC's community health improvement initiatives.