After more than a quarter century of service to Parkview Health System, President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Barnes is set to retire at the end of the month.
Current Parkview Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Darrin Smith will take the reins on June 1.
Barnes became the first woman to serve as chief executive officer at Parkview when she replaced Mike Baxter in 2019. Today, Parkview is the city’s largest private employer with about 3,000 employees and a payroll of more than $232 million.
Barnes logged a total of 38 years in health care. She started at Parkview 26 years ago as a staff accountant before moving up the ranks to CEO.
Barnes helped the hospital mark its 100th anniversary this year. During her tenure, the hospital added to its cardiology complex, expanded its Pueblo West emergency room to include a new $58 million orthopedic hospital and opened a $43 million comprehensive cancer center.
“That cancer center has been so well-received. The goal was to treat 20 patients, and today we are treating 52 people,” Barnes told the Chieftain earlier this year.
Barnes attributes Parkview’s success, in part, to smooth transitions between leaders.
“We’ve had great handoffs, and each CEO was here to work with their successors. It was not like starting over, and that spoke to the vision of the board, which has always given internal people the opportunity to move up,” he said.
“Darrin Smith will make a great CEO and he will continue to build on the progress Parkview has achieved over the last century,” he said in a press release.
Among Smith’s duties will be leading Parkview through its next chapter once final regulatory approvals are in place and a merger with UCHealth rolls out. Through the partnership, UCHealth is expected to invest nearly $200 million into Parkview and the Pueblo community in the coming years.
More Parkview news: Pueblo’s Parkview Health System and UCHealth finalize merger
“I am grateful for the opportunity, through all the different positions that I’ve had, to support all the people who take care of our patients. It has brought me great joy and satisfaction,” Barnes said. She has plans to continue volunteering in the community.
Smith said he was excited about his new position.
“It’s a role where I get to continue the mission, the vision and the values of providing high quality healthcare here in our region of Pueblo and Southern Colorado,” he said in the release.
Smith joined Parkview in 2005 as vice president of human resources. He and his wife, Andrea Aragon, have been married for more than 25 years and have two sons, Freddie and Evan.
Parkview has a 350-bed capacity and served nearly 236,000 patients last year.
More on Parkview: Parkview Health System turns 100: How bold expansions fueled growth of the Pueblo hospital
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo’s Parkview hospital names new CEO as longtime leader retires