Alexander Garza, MD MPH
Chief Medical Officer
As Chief Medical Officer for SSM Health, Dr. Garza oversees the delivery of medical care across the entire SSM Health system including ambulatory care, hospitals and post-acute care. Dr. Garza assumed this position after serving as the Chief Quality Officer and St. Louis Regional Chief Medical Officer for SSM Health.
Dr. Garza joined SSM Health in September 2016 from St. Louis University where he was an associate dean for public health practice and associate professor of epidemiology at SLU’s College for Public Health and Social Justice and Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine.
Prior to moving to St. Louis, Dr. Garza was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he served from 2009 – 2013. During his tenure at DHS, he led the health and security efforts for DHS, which included the health aspects of terrorism and natural disasters.
The Office of Health Affairs (OHA) at DHS included programs in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) including the BioWatch program and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center. He served as the DHS lead in response to the H1N1 pandemic, and the health lead for multiple disasters including the Fukishima Nuclear Disaster, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Haitian earthquake among others.
Dr. Garza began his career in health as an EMT in 1986 and has worked in every level of providing care and leadership in emergency medicine and healthcare. He has extensive experience working as a paramedic and flight medic and is a board-certified emergency physician working at academic medical centers. Dr. Garza has worked as the Medical Director for Emergency Medical Services for the City of Kansas City, Missouri Health Department and the State of New Mexico. He is a Colonel in the US Army Reserves and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He has written and lectured extensively on issues involving EMS, health, security and preparedness and has counseled leadership at the highest levels of government. Dr. Garza is considered an expert in weapons of mass destruction, health threats to national security and strategic and operational excellence.
Dr. Garza has received numerous awards for his military service and civilian career including the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge. He was also awarded the Young Investigator Award by the American Heart Association for his research in cardiac arrest.