Clay Dunagan to step down as chief clinical officer in 2023


After seven years of serving as BJC’s chief clinical officer — including the past two years leading BJC’s COVID-19 pandemic response — Clay Dunagan, MD, has announced that he will step down from his chief clinical officer role in April 2023.

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Dunagan has served as a key member and co-leader of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. “Clay has made us all very proud and represented BJC admirably throughout the pandemic,” said Rich Liekweg, BJC president and CEO. “And I know many of us — myself included — are grateful and appreciative for his dedication, leadership and commitment to keeping all of us safe.”

Dr. Dunagan joined BJC in 1994 and has held several roles, including serving for 20 years as vice president for quality, as well as leading the Center for Clinical Excellence (CCE). Some of the notable achievements under his leadership include helping to establish programs to improve the quality of patient care, including sponsorship of the Infection Prevention and Healthcare Epidemiology Consortium and the Operational Excellence/Transformation Support team. The CCE’s work helped BJC win the 1999 National Healthcare Quality Award from the National Committee for Quality Health Care.

Dr. Dunagan also co-authored and co-led three of BJC’s Best-in-Class Quality five-year plans. This work resulted in BJC being awarded the National Quality Forum’s 2019 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality (local/regional).

Dr. Dunagan is also a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, where he holds appointments in the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and General Medical Sciences in the Department of Medicine. At WUSM, he has served as a consultant in infectious diseases and participated in research with an emphasis on health care epidemiology, quality improvement and the use of information technology to enhance patient care and safety.

During his tenure, Dr. Dunagan has represented BJC and WUSM on a number of national boards and committees, including the National Committee for Quality Health Care, the National Quality Forum, the Global Comparators Executive Council and Founders Board, and the Anthem National Advisory Panel on Value Solutions.

“Clay has certainly had a distinguished and successful career over the past few decades,” Liekweg said. “He has been a friend and mentor to so many of us throughout the years and has made a lasting impact on our organization. As Clay determines what will be next for him — he’s not quite ready to retire — we will begin a national search to find the next chief clinical officer for BJC.”

Plans to celebrate Dr. Dunagan will be shared early next year. “In the meantime, please join me in thanking Clay for all he has given our organization, our patients and our communities, and congratulating Clay on his next chapter,” Liekweg added.

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