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Maryann Reese installed as new Saint Francis CEO

Maryann Reese, RN, MHA, DHA, FACHE, was introduced and formally installed as the new president and chief executive officer of the Saint Francis Healthcare System on Sept. 20 at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.

Reese joined Saint Francis in 2015 as the executive vice president and chief operating officer, who lead the development of patient-care services and programs. Prior to joining Saint Francis, Reese worked as CEO at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Illinois.

She is following Steven Bjelich as CEO, who had been with Saint Francis since 1999. He retired Sept. 1.

Bishop Edward M. Rice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was the celebrant of the Holy Mass of Installation, and he encouraged Maryann during his homily to make Saint Francis a sacred space.

“Listen to the voice of Christ and in Saint Francis,” Rice advised. “He was challenged to rebuild the church, and you are being challenged to build up this little portion of the church at this hospital.”

The bishop offered his support in making sure everyone who visits the healthcare system encounters the spirit of Christ, everywhere from operation rooms to the billing office.

Rice presented Reese six symbols of leadership following the rite of installation, including a copy of a San Damiano crucifix, Saint Francis’ mission and Franciscan values, the articles and bylaws of the Saint Francis Healthcare System, a clock to represent Reese’s commitment of her time and energy, a roster of patients and a lighted candle that symbolized Christ.

Reese said she was proud to join the long list of presidents of the institution, which was founded by Franciscan sisters 140 years ago.

“Saint Francis Healthcare System exists not only to transform the mind, the body and the spirit of those we have the privilege to serve, but also to transform the health and vitality of our community,” Reese said.

The mass was attended by members of the Saint Francis community including board members and employees, as well as Reese’s family and friends. She thanked all those who made the event possible.

“I wanted [the installation to be] simple and joyful, just like Saint Francis,” Reese said. “I think we have definitely accomplished that.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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