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Editorial: Jake Henry Jr led a golden age at Oklahoma’s largest health care provider

Editorial: Jake Henry Jr led a golden age at Oklahoma’s largest health care provider

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Jake Henry (copy)

Saint Francis President and CEO Jake Henry Jr. speaks about his time at the organization and what the future holds on March 22.

Jake Henry Jr., president and CEO of Oklahoma’s largest health care provider, has announced his June 30 retirement.

During his 19 years of leadership, Saint Francis Health System has grown from 2.3 million square feet of space to more than a billion.

That’s been a matter of acquiring strategic sites such as Saint Francis Vinita and Saint Francis Muskogee and expanding the main Tulsa campus.

On Henry’s watch, the cancer center has doubled in size, the new Trauma Emergency Center tower was added and the eight-story, $72.6 million Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis opened in 2008.

In all, he oversaw $1.9 billion in capital expenditures, all directed to providing better, faster, fuller health care for the people of Oklahoma.

Henry, 75, instilled a sense of mission and vision into the health care system that allowed it to grow wisely, strategically and with discipline.

He led with consistent planning and stability, ending a period in which the health care system had five CEOs in a decade.

The Henry years were truly a golden time for Saint Francis, the greatest era of growth and development in the locally owned, locally operated Catholic hospital’s 60-year history.

Henry also provided critical leadership on statewide health care issues, most recently Medicaid expansion and smart public health choices during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s successes in both challenges owe no small amount of credit to his guidance. His was a voice of experience and wisdom that has helped Oklahomans understand the sometimes confusing and frustrating issues of health care policy.

In 2002, when Henry was recruited to Saint Francis from Corpus Christi, Texas, he had never been to Tulsa and leaving Texas was not in his plans.

But it was a match that was meant to be, and one that has benefitted both Henry and Tulsa in no small way.

We congratulate Henry on a successful career, wish him health and happiness in his retirement, and trust that he will continue to add his voice to the public discussion of how to best serve the health needs of Tulsa and Oklahoma.


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