OKLAHOMA CITY – Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City President Jim Gebhart was named Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians’ (OAFP) Patient Advocate of the Year at an award ceremony in June for his tireless commitment to bettering the health of the people of Oklahoma through his role at Mercy and as chair of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s (TSET) Board of Directors.
“Jim is a visionary leader and passionate advocate for improving the health of all Oklahomans,” said Tracey Strader, TSET executive director, who nominated Gebhart for the award. “He is a role model to others and applies his wealth of experience in health care systems, community health and community service to his decisions on the board.”
Gebhart was appointed to the TSET Board of Directors on July 1, 2012, and became chair of the board in 2014. TSET is a state endowment created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment in November 2000.
The endowment is funded by the earnings from the investment of lawsuit settlement payments as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry. Oklahoma and 45 other states sued the tobacco industry for damages and costs associated with tobacco-related diseases. TSET’s Board of Directors sets the strategic vision for the agency and makes all funding decisions.
“Jim makes strategic, data-driven decisions, and always has the best interests of the people of Oklahoma in mind,” said Strader. “He understands that TSET’s funding of programs and research to prevent and reduce tobacco use and obesity will have the greatest impact in driving down our state’s leading killers and health care cost drivers — cancer and heart disease.”
According to TSET’s fiscal 2014 annual report, smoking rates in Oklahoma are at a historic low of 23.3 percent and smoking rates among kids have been cut by half.
“I am so grateful and truly humbled to receive the Patient Advocate of the Year award through OAFP based on the nomination by Tracey and the team at TSET,” said Gebhart. “I went into the health care field more than 20 years ago to make a difference in the lives of the wonderful people in our communities. To know that in some small way I may be helping Oklahomans live healthier lives is the most rewarding feeling. I am so excited to continue this monumental work in the years to come. I feel blessed to be associated with organizations like Mercy and TSET.”
In 2009, Gebhart relocated from Texas to Oklahoma to serve as president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. Gebhart, a native of western Oklahoma, is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Dallas Graduate School of Management.
In addition to his work with Mercy and TSET, Gebhart is a member of the board of directors for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma City March of Dimes and the United Way of Central Oklahoma.