ETMC president, CEO retires after 50 years
From Staff Reports
Feb. 9, 2018 at 1:51 p.m.
Elmer G. Ellis, president and CEO of East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, is set to retire this month after 50 years of service with the Tyler-based hospital.
"The combination of reaching the 50-year milestone as I also reach retirement is gratifying," he said. "It has been a remarkable journey, as the health care experience and medical technology have changed vastly. I'm proud to have worked with thousands of dedicated team members, physicians and volunteers — the people who daily save lives and care for others."
He will be honored with several special events in the coming weeks, including a service awards dinner, community leadership reception and ETMC team member reception. His last day is Feb. 28.
A native of Paris, Ellis spent four years at Paris' St. Joseph Hospital and moved to Tyler in 1968 to assume the role of assistant administrator of Medical Center Hospital — now ETMC Tyler. He advanced to the position of president/CEO in 1985, a move that launched ETMC's rise into a multi-hospital health network serving East Texas.
In the 1970s, Ellis began to explore the possibilities of aligning with smaller communities to extend care into the region by developing a regional network of facilities and services with a goal of providing a continuum of care for East Texans.
"As I started thinking about what we could do for the rural hospitals of East Texas, I realized that we had to become problem solvers," Ellis said. "That role carried the obligation to do the right thing by advancing healthcare to the highest level possible in these home communities."
Ellis' belief that emergency care should be available to people no matter where they choose to live led to the development of East Texas Medical Center EMS, one of the largest not-for-profit providers of ambulance services in the nation.
Under Ellis' leadership, ETMC Tyler was designated a Level I Trauma Center and its centers of excellence broadened to include advanced specialties in cardiology, cancer, neurology, movement disorders, behavioral health and kidney transplantation, though that program will end within the next six months.
"When I look back to when I first came here and see where we are today, most of it is the house that Elmer built, really," said longtime ETMC system board member Wade C. Ridley. "He had a vision, and we latched on to that."
Ellis has received recognition from numerous local, state and national groups, including the Texas Hospital Association's highest honor: the Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Healthcare Administration.
"If you look at the level of service of the health care providers we have in our community compared to cities our size, we have Elmer Ellis to thank for that," said former state Sen. Kevin Eltife. "He's done an incredible job with ETMC."
Ellis' departure comes as ETMC is being acquired by Ardent Health Services.
In April, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System announced it was looking for a strategic partner to provide capital for growth and expansion and in September, ETMC announced a partnership with Ardent Health Services.
Ardent has said it will bring $150 million in investments to the new hospital system it is creating with its purchase of ETMC and its affiliation with the University of Texas medical system.
The newly created health system under Ardent Health Services — to include all the ETMC hospitals and clinics as well as those of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UT Health Northeast) — is targeted to begin operations on March 1. A new organizational name and overall corporate identity will be announced to the public at a time later that month.
"ETMC's guiding philosophy has been to put the patient first, and everything else then falls into place," Ellis said. "That patient-centered care – delivered by a first-class medical team – will continue to distinguish this organization. It's been my privilege to serve with such outstanding people for 50 years."