Naked City

Barnett's Back at Seton

The former president and CEO of the Seton Healthcare Network is returning to his old job after an 18-month stint with Ascension Health, Seton's parent company. Charles Barnett will reassume the top job on Jan. 1, while Interim President and CEO Patricia Hayes will move back to her post as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Seton officials say there's no surprise associated with the switch, and both Barnett and Hayes had agreed to take their jobs on a temporary basis. Barnett was promoted to senior vice president of the St. Louis-based Ascension in early 2001. At the time, the Austin Business Journal carried news of the announcement with no mention of the job being a temporary assignment. "His Ascension role involves extensive travel, and he is looking forward to doing less of that," said Seton spokeswoman Gayle Granberry. Barnett will also have more time to spend on economic development work with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, where he was recently elected to a second term as chairman.

During his Ascension tenure, Barnett helped reorganize the company's national operations. Ascension is both the largest Catholic hospital system and the largest not-for-profit medical provider in the U.S. One of its top rivals is HCA Healthcare, the for-profit company that owns Seton competitor St. David's Medical Center.

Hayes returns to her VP post after a challenging year and a half in the driver's seat. Seton has drawn fire for discontinuing its birth control services at the city-owned Brackenridge Hospital, which Seton leases and manages, and more recently over its plans to build a new children's hospital, which health care advocates fear will jeopardize Brackenridge's financial stability and damage efforts to create a countywide hospital district (see "The Custody Battle at Brackenridge," p.26).

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