Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital gets new president

New top executive also is a nurse, arrives amid contract standoff with nurses’ union

Barbara Martin will become president of Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital on March 11. Feb. 27.2024.

Barbara Martin, a hospital executive with local connections, will be the new president at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet hospital, Ascension Illinois announced Tuesday.

Martin will come to the Joliet hospital with experience as chief executive at three hospitals in the Chicago area, according to a news release from Ascension.

She also has connections to the Joliet area, having been an executive at Saint Joseph – Joliet when it was part of Provena Health and having graduated from Lewis University in Romeoville with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a MBA degree. She starts March 11.

Martin remains a registered nurse in Illinois and takes over at the Joliet hospital in the midst of a prolonged contract standoff with union nurses, who have staged three short-term strikes since their contract expired in July.

Nurses continue their strike outside Ascension Saint Joseph Joliet on Thursday, Feb. 8th 2024 in Joliet.

“We are excited about the wealth of experience and knowledge Barbara brings to this role,” Polly Davenport, Ascension Illinois senior vice president and ministry market CEO, said in the release. “With years of leadership experience in the Chicagoland area, she’s no stranger to Saint Joseph – Joliet. She is a member of the local community and well-connected with community leaders and organizations. In fact, one of her first leadership roles was as the vice president, hospital operations and ambulatory services with this hospital when it was part of Provena Health.”

Martin most recently was chief administrative officer/chief executive officer at Community First Medical Center in Chicago.

Before that, she was president and CEO at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park.

“There, she was successful in leading a financial turnaround, overseeing the implementation of a robotic surgery program and facilitating several affiliations with UI Health,” according to the Ascension release.

Martin also was CEO for 11 years at Vista Health System in Waukegan.

Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

At Vista Health System, Martin led the development of an ambulatory care network of diagnostic imaging, laboratory sites and physician offices throughout Lake County and oversaw the opening of Vista Cancer Centers in 2015, according to the release.

Martin’s previous experience includes a position as chief operating officer with Saint Therese Medical Center in Waukegan, which had also been part of the former Provena Health hospital network.

As president, Martin will hold the chief executive position at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet.

It’s a position that has seen turnover in recent years during a period in which hospital ownership has changed and in which there has been ongoing labor strife with the nurses’ union.

Previous President Chris Shride resigned in December after being on the job for less than two years.