Saint Francis Hospital main entrance on Woodland Street in Hartford. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org
Signs thanking health care workers are planted in front of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Trinity Health of New England has tapped Thomas Burke of Glastonbury, a top administrator at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, to become the medical center’s new president.

Burke, who had been serving as interim president since mid-May, succeeds Dr. John Rodis, who resigned seven months ago.

“Tom stepped into the role as interim president during the pandemic and at a time of great challenge and transition within our organization,” said Dr. Reginald Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health New England. “He rose to the occasion and proved his ability to lead with enthusiasm and with the utmost respect for every one of our colleagues and members of our medical staff.”

Burke, who served as the hospital’s vice president of operations for four years, was selected following a national search and an interview process that included Saint Francis Hospital staff.

“My time as interim president during this unprecedented time has given me a unique opportunity to grow as a leader,” Burke said. “I look forward to serving in this role and supporting all our Saint Francis colleagues as we continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

Burke told The CT Mirror that “The biggest challenge that we’re facing right now is making sure that our colleagues, our patients, our visitors remain safe as we provide care during this second wave.”

And while some of the surge in infection rates is due to “pandemic fatigue” individuals relaxing their use of masks or maintaining social distancing — Burke also said there is greater confidence within the healthcare industry, because so much more is known about the coronavirus than was known in March.

“It feels very different this time,” he said. “We’ve learned such a tremendous amount from the first wave. … There’s still anxiety but we’re in a much better position.”

Burke held several senior-level leadership positions in health care prior to his tenure at Saint Francis, including vice president for financial operations at Prospect Medical Holdings and vice president of operations at Waterbury Hospital. 

Burke is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and a Master of Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University, also in Philadelphia. 

Rodis, who served as president and CEO from 2015 to 2020 and was also the first physician to be appointed president in Saint Francis’ 118-year-history, departed abruptly last May.

Neither he nor Eadie have commented on the reasons for the separation, though Eadie praised Rodis for leading Saint Francis through a period of significant change and transformation.

During Rodis’ tenure, Saint Francis was designed as a Level I trauma center — a high rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It also became the only hospital in Connecticut to make IBM Watson Health’s top 100 hospitals in the nation.

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Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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