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President Profile: Mark Shen, MD, MBA

“I tell people that I’m a student all over again,” says Mark Shen of his new role as St. Louis Children’s Hospital president, which he assumed in early November. “The first thing I want to do is to learn. There are no textbooks for this job. I’m going to be out and about in every corner of the system and in the community, as well.”

A pediatrician by training, Shen comes to St. Louis from Austin, Texas, where he held various executive positions at Ascension Health, Inc. Although he will no longer practice pediatric medicine at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Shen’s years of experience as a physician nevertheless deeply inform his leadership approach and ambitions for the hospital. “One thing that’s important to me as president is to go to the bedside regularly to understand how families experience our care,” he details. “I’m putting on a slightly different hat to try to understand the entire journey through our system that patients and families have, and how we can improve that.”

With barely a month on the job, Shen can already recognize what sets St. Louis Children’s Hospital apart from peer institutions. “There are very few places like this in the country,” he declares. “You can see that in the kids who come here from across the world, and also in the outcomes – the quality, safety and experience of every child and family. There is a commitment to pursue excellence in both everyday outcomes and in driving the future of care. I want to help encourage that and to support [the medical staff] in any way possible. Because that’s what makes us a top children’s hospital.”

Past

In 1878, Appoline Blair, widow of former Army General and U.S. Senator Francis Blair, invited nine women to her home for afternoon tea. Spurred by the loss of her 6-year-old daughter to illness, she proposed an innovative concept: to create a hospital dedicated to the care of children. The next year, Blair’s proposal became a reality when St. Louis Children’s Hospital opened with 15 beds in downtown St. Louis. The oldest children’s hospital west of the Mississippi River, St. Louis Children’s Hospital will celebrate its 140th anniversary in 2019. While the hospital’s range of care, not to mention its physical footprint, has vastly expanded, its founding commitment to the well-being of children remains steadfast.

Present

St. Louis Children’s Hospital partners with Washington University School of Medicine to provide world-class pediatric care in more than 50 specialties. The hospital consistently ranks amongst U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” with all 10 specialties surveyed earning a place on its most recent 2018-2019 list. In 2017 alone, St. Louis Children’s Hospital received a total of 384,284 patient visits. While the hospital serves a 300-mile-wide radius in the region, its patients come from all 50 states and more than 80 countries.

Future

A partnership between St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the Children’s Discovery Institute (CDI) is at the forefront of personalized or precision medicine, which uses genomics to identify, prescribe and treat disease. Neither the superior pediatric care provided by St. Louis Children’s Hospital nor the groundbreaking research undertaken by the CDI would be possible without the generous support of the St. Louis community. “It’s a virtuous cycle,” emphasizes Shen. “The more successful a hospital is, the more philanthropy occurs and the more pediatric care advances are made.” To support patients and families at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, please visit stlouischildrens.org/donate or call 314-286-0988.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital, One Children’s Place, St. Louis, 314-454-6000, stlouischildrens.org

Emma Dent is the Special Projects Manager for the Ladue News. A St. Louis native, Emma is a trained art historian with interests in American visual culture, especially illustration and advertising. She enjoys reading, writing, and looking.