Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas (MHM) announced Thursday that its President and CEO Kevin Moriarty is retiring after more than two decades leading the organization through an era marked by upheaval in the nation’s healthcare system.

Moriarty, 67, met with MHM’s 400 employees Thursday morning to break the news, and the board of directors has engaged an executive search firm to evaluate candidates for CEO. Moriarty will continue to serve in the position until a successor is named.

The stated mission of MHM is to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of those least served in the Rio Texas Conference area of The United Methodist Church. MHM also owns half of Methodist Healthcare, the largest healthcare system in South Texas.

MHM Board Chairman George Ricks praised Moriarty’s “passion, tenacity, and bold leadership.”

“Kevin’s service and commitment to the patients, clients, and communities we serve across South Texas over these many years have been steadfast, and he has been the fiercest of advocates for the least served, an innovator, and an exemplary model of servant leadership for the MHM team of talent he has led during his tenure,” Ricks stated.

Moriarty was selected to serve as Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ first-ever CEO in 1996, one year after a unique and unprecedented partnership was brokered between Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the former Methodist Hospital Board of Trustees that later founded the MHM organization and transformed the singular Methodist Hospital into the Methodist Healthcare System.

As founding president and CEO, Moriarty was responsible for setting the overall direction for the organization, executive administration of the primary care medical and dental clinics MHM owns and operates, and providing policy guidance to its board of directors.

One of Moriarty’s first tasks in 1996 was approving $35 million in funding for the first Methodist Children’s Hospital. “And the last thing I did last year was [to approve] $300 million for the renovation for that hospital,” he said.

Under Moriarty’s leadership, MHM has played a pivotal role in the development of state policies that have helped low-income families and the uninsured in Texas access care. The organization played a pivotal role in the development of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) and the Texas Women’s Health Program.

Through the partnership with HCA, Moriarty grew MHM’s strategies for community health from a budget of $3 million for 2,900 clients in 1996 to a budgeted expenditure of $105 million in 2017 through contracts with partners and operated programs impacting 300,000 patients per year in 2017.

In addition, the number of nonprofit partners funded by Methodist Healthcare Ministries has grown significantly under Moriarty’s leadership – from four grant-funded programs through three nonprofit agencies in 1996 for a total of $1.3 million to more than 120 grant-funded programs and more than 90 partners for $26.7 million in 2017 .

Moriarty led and supported local efforts to fluoridate San Antonio’s water supply, and develop the Women Involved in Nurturing, Giving and Sharing (WINGS) Program, the Health Collaborative, and Health Access San Antonio (HASA). He also managed Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ $7.1 million gift to fund construction of Haven for Hope‘s medical, dental, vision, and intake facility in 2008.

Outside of Bexar County, Moriarty was vital to the collaboration that established what was at the time the Coastal Bend’s only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a facility that remains a critical source of care for that region’s uninsured population. He also created funding relationships through the FQHC network in San Antonio and throughout the 74 counties of the Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church with 17 FQHCs.

Most recently, MHM spearheaded mental health legislation in the 2017 regular legislative session, supporting the efforts of House Speaker Joe Straus and the Select Committee on Mental Health.

Moriarty told the Rivard Report that he could not single out one contribution to MHM as most important.

“It’s just been steady work over time, building the company to be what it is,” he said. “I also was absolutely desirous of making sure the community partners and nonprofits were affirmed, from funding FQHCs early on to today. We are the other funder of most of the health and human services in our target area, so putting money into small nonprofits to help them be successful is extraordinarily important to me.”

Prior to serving at MHM, Moriarty served as a public official with the City of San Antonio for more than 20 years.

He said he plans to continue to stay involved in efforts to improve access to health care in the state, working with his wife Jennifer Moriarty’s consulting firm to support nonprofits and contribute his voice to pertinent issues.

“Clearly, I can be more active and vocal in public policy [now] since no I longer have to keep my mouth shut because I’m representing a big company,” Moriarty said.

“My opinions are not radical, but I am a very informed healthcare expert. My concern has always been that we needed universal health care. In Texas, we’ve moved from being 49th to 47th in so many things. If you want to be great, we need the best outcomes in health care and education. That’s not a liberal or conservative perspective, it’s more of an obligation as men and women of faith.”

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.