Mercy Health Network announced today that its board of directors has named Bob Ritz as chief executive officer, effective July 1. Ritz has led Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines as president since 2013. He succeeds Dave Vellinga, who announced his retirement in November.

"Bob has boundless energy, unquestionable integrity, commitment to our ministries, drive, focus and compassion," Vellinga said. "He uses all of his talents to build high-performing teams, and I am excited for the future of Mercy Health Network under his leadership."

Ritz, who has 29 years of health care leadership experience, previously worked in Springfield, Ill., where prior to joining Mercy he was division president of Hospital Sisters Health System. He had succeeded Vellinga as Mercy-Des Moines' president. He has a Master of Health Administration degree from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va.

Dean Swindle, MHN board member and president of enterprise business lines and the chief financial officer for Catholic Health Initiatives, said, "Bob has done an excellent job leading his team in adapting to the constant changes in health care and transitioning from a volume-based environment to focus on value and health for our patients."

A Mercy-Des Moines spokesman said that no determination has been made on whether an interim president will be appointed or on the search process for the next president. 

Mercy Health Network, based in West Des Moines, is an integrated system of hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. MHN and its two owner-members — Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health — own and operate eight medical centers and other services in six major markets in Iowa (Clinton, Des Moines, Dubuque, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls) and community hospitals in seven other locations.

More than 2,000 physicians and advanced-practice clinicians provide care in MHN facilities. Nearly 1,000 of them formally integrated into the organization, making MHN one of the largest multi-specialist physician group practices in Iowa. On Monday, MHN announced that Mercy Iowa City will join the network as an affiliated hospital on June 1.

Ritz's selection as Mercy Health Network CEO follows a search conducted by Witt/Kieffer, which included extensive vetting of candidates from across the country.

Mercy Health Network was founded in 1998 under a joint operating agreement between two of the largest Catholic, not-for-profit health organizations in the United States: Catholic Health Initiatives, based in Englewood, Colo., and Trinity Health, based in Livonia, Mich.