PITTSBURG — Kansas-born Don King has been chosen to lead Ascension Via Christi — bringing nearly 20 years of senior healthcare leadership experience to his new role as Ascension senior vice president and Kansas ministry market executive.

In his new role, effective April 15, King will provide strategic and operational leadership while promoting alignment within Ascension Kansas and Ascension’s national ministry, a release from Ascension Via Christi said.
“Don has been a trusted, Mission-focused leader within Ascension for the past eight years,” said Karen Springer, executive vice president, Ascension Healthcare Operations, in announcing King’s promotion.

Lyndon O. “Lyndy” Wells, who serves as chairman of Ascension Via Christi’s Board of Directors, said in the release that King brings an Ascension perspective along with a “genuine interest in patients, physicians, associates and the community.”
“Don recognizes that healthcare is local and that the bedside is where that care is delivered,” Wells said in the release. “It’s great that we can bring him back to Kansas.”

According to the release, King currently serves as chief operating officer for Ascension Alabama, where he has led efforts to address community social determinants through participation in statewide opioid and behavioral health initiatives and improved quality measures of sepsis, heart failure and pneumonia. Under his leadership, associate experience scores increased to being among Ascension’s top 10 percent.

Prior to that, King served at Ascension Tennessee, first as chief operating officer of Saint Thomas West Hospital and then as chief operating officer for Saint Thomas West and Midtown Hospitals. Two years later, he assumed the role of president/chief executive officer of the multi-campus, multi-hospital enterprise. Before joining Ascension, he was the COO at Lee’s Summit (Missouri) Medical Center and prior to that a senior administrator at Research Medical Center in Kansas City.

King, who grew up in the Kansas City area, earned both his undergraduate and master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University in southern California. He is a graduate of the Ascension Executive Ministry Leadership formation program and is a current participant in the Ascension Leadership Academy.

Active in various community organizations, he has served as board member of the American Heart Association of Middle Tennessee, on the Executive Committee of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and board member for YMCA at Maryland Farms; in 2014, he received the Regent’s Award from American College of Healthcare Executives, the release said.

King and his wife, Wendy, who grew up in the Kansas City area, have two children, Grant, 22, and Abigail, 20, who both attend the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. King is looking forward to the couple’s return to Kansas, he said.
“What has me most excited is to lead such a great organization and to build upon its rich history of service,” King said in the release. “Being close to home and family is an added bonus.”