Claude Harbarger retiring from St. Dominic; Lester Diamond new president

After a 32 year association with St. Dominic, Claude W. Harbarger is retiring as president of St. Dominic Health Services, Inc. June 30.

Harbarger’s decision corresponds with St. Dominic’s transition of sponsorship to the Franciscan Calais Ministries and the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) on July 1.

“After thoughtful deliberation, I believe the timing of this decision will best facilitate St. Dominic’s positioning into the FMOLHS organizational structure, Harbarger said.

Lester K. Diamond, current president of St. Dominic Hospital, will serve as St. Dominic Health Services president July 1.

“I have personally enjoyed getting to know both Claude and Lester in their experiences with FMOLHS over the past years, including as members of our board,” Richard R. Vath, MD, interim president and CEO of FMOLHS said. “I want to add my thanks to Claude for his selfless service to Catholic health care and the many contributions he has made at St. Dominic’s. He is a tremendous leader. We are looking forward to Lester’s new role as he brings insights and experiences to our Franciscan ministry and continues the important legacy of St. Dominic’s for families in Mississippi.”

Harbarger joined St. Dominic’s in 1987 as senior vice president–Professional Services. He was named president of St. Dominic Hospital in 1991, a position he held 20 years. He was named president of St. Dominic Health Services January 1, 2012, following Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth’s retirement from the position.

He began his administrative career in 1978 at Humana Hospital Augusta, Ga., as an administrative resident. After completing his master’s in hospital and health administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, he served in leadership positions with Humana Hospital in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

Harbarger is a member of First Presbyterian Church where he serves as an Elder. He and his wife Karis have three married children and seven grandchildren.

Diamond, who was born in Jackson at St. Dominic Hospital, pursued his undergraduate studies at Memphis State University in business administration, and his graduate studies at the University of Mississippi in health care administration. He completed his administrative residency at Eastwood Hospital in Memphis in 1984.

Diamond began his administrative career in 1985 with Charter Medical Corporation as an assistant administrator and ultimately served in this position at Charter Peachford Hospital in Atlanta and Charter Plains Hospital in Lubbock. In 1988, Diamond accepted the position of chief operating officer at Laurelwood.

He joined St. Dominic Hospital in 1992 as vice president for the North Campus, which was comprised of 118 beds devoted to the treatment of psychiatric and chemical dependency disorders. Diamond was then named vice president of Behavioral Health Services and also held administrative responsibilities for the Jackson Mental Health Center.

In 1996, Diamond transitioned to the position of vice president of professional services, with responsibility for many of the hospital’s ancillary departments. In 1997, he was promoted to senior vice president of professional services and was then promoted to executive vice president of operations in 2007. He succeeded Harbarger as president of St. Dominic Hospital on January 1, 2012.

The Diamond family attends St. Richard Catholic Church. He and his wife Gina have two sons, Andrew and Eric and attend St. Richard Catholic Church.

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