Ransom leads MU Health Care as it meets increasing demands.
The son and brother of a physician, Ric Ransom says he was the kid who passed out in biology class.
Instead of attending medical school, Ransom decided to approach health care from a different angle. He pursued a law degree, along with master’s degrees in both business administration and science in health administration.
“It was clear to me early on that I didn’t have some of the gifts and abilities that clinical leaders have in caring for the sick, but the idea that I’m able to help doctors, nurses, therapists, and pharmacists do what they do is a big part of my motivation of getting into health care administration,” Ransom says. “Health care is complicated, heavily regulated, and the environment is shaped by federal and state agencies. My education has helped me in leading organizations to navigate a complex healthcare environment.”
Ransom took the helm as the chief executive officer of MU Health Care in May, and after eight months in Columbia, he says watching healthcare professionals care for patients and families continues to motivate and inspire him.
“The respect I have for our clinical team day in and day out is one of the best parts of the job,” he says. “Coming from a family involved in health care has impacted my motivation and how rewarding I find the work.”
Ransom came to MU Health Care from his position as president of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals. For the bulk of his career, Ransom says he served in roles in “not-for-profit, mostly academic and frequently publicly affiliated health care systems” around the country, including Greenville, South Carolina, Memphis, Atlanta, Boston, and Dallas.
“A significant portion of my career has been in places like MU Health Care, and as I look back, that has helped me in getting where I am as I lead this organization,” Ransom says.
Expanding Clinical Scale
While there are many aspects of his role that Ransom says excite him, there are a few key initiatives that particularly energize him. MU Health Care’s focus on clinical scale has opened the doors to several significant changes and improvements to the way MU delivers health care.
“We are trying to grow into what the state of Missouri and our patients need us to be,” Ransom says. “That means expanding our locations and services to be who the community needs us to be.”
A new, $230 million Children’s Hospital will be completed in June 2024, and Ransom says the 140-bed space may be used for patient care as early as this spring.
“Under this idea of growing into who Missouri needs us to be, the Children’s Tower is one of the things I’m most excited about,” Ransom says. “This is a significant expansion of our ability to care for women, kids, and neuroscience patients.”
As of January 1, Capital Region Medical Center has integrated with MU Health Care, adding a 114-bed community hospital and thirty clinic locations to the MU Health Care family.
“This dovetails precisely into the clinical scale and growth and becoming who Missouri and the patients need us to be,” Ransom says.
In addition, to support efforts to provide care in rural areas, MU Health Care recently opened new clinics and urgent care locations in Audrain County and Mexico.
“We want to make sure that communities impacted by rural hospital closures still have access to a level of care,” Ransom says. “This is big news for patients in Missouri, and represents significant strides in being who Missouri needs us to be.”
Preparing for the Future
With 8,000 employees of MU Health Care, including about 800 physicians and advance practice providers across eighty sites and seven hospitals, the MU Health Care professional team is critical to its success, and ensuring that the team remains strong in number and skill is always top of mind, Ransom says.
“The challenge around recruiting, attracting, and retaining a talented workforce is not unique to Missouri or to MU Health Care,” Ransom says. “There is national pressure on health care workers, physician shortages, nursing shortages, and challenges in the availability of members of the allied health team. Because health care is people caring for people, we are dependent on retaining and attracting caregivers of the future.”
Another serious concern that weighs on Ransom is the pressure on rural and critical access hospitals across the state to remain open. Ransom explains that critical access hospitals are defined by their size and proximity to other healthcare delivery. In July, a report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform found that nineteen rural hospitals are at risk of closure due to “serious financial problems.”
“While MU Health Care is based out of Columbia, we serve a great part of the state, including many rural areas,” he says. “There are fifty-seven critical access hospitals in Missouri, and nineteen are under some risk of closure. As there is pressure on our partners, that puts more pressure on MU Health Care to try to increase capacity and meet demands for care.”
Despite the challenges facing the health care system at MU and across the country, Ransom says his vision for the future is tied directly to the mission of MU Health Care, which is to save and improve lives through the delivery of exemplary patient care, teaching, and research.
“As I look at the work of the health care system and saving and improving life through patient care, we have to continue to provide access to care, both inpatient and ambulatory,” he says.
As MU Health Care looks to the future, Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president, says Ransom is the right leader to carry the hospital system into the future.
“Ric’s arrival comes at an exciting time for MU Health Care,” Choi says. “He’s already immersed himself in three transformative projects as MU Health Care integrates with Capital Region Medical Center, forms strategic relationships to ensure local access to health care in Missouri’s rural communities, and prepares to open a new Children’s Hospital next summer. We are very fortunate to have someone with Ric’s experience guiding MU Health Care during this extremely important period of growth for the health system.”
Maximizing Time Off
In his short time as a Missouri resident, Ransom has already found plenty of reasons to love the city of Columbia.
“I am really digging Columbia,” he says. “One of the things I love are the trails with lots of lakes and ponds. I spend a lot of time walking and hiking.”
He’s also found joy in exploring the restaurant scene, and he says he quickly found many amazing spots to enjoy a variety of foods.
“There are some wonderful places to eat, including Murry’s that has this amazing butter cake,” Ransom says. “There’s Jina Yoo’s — I love sushi — and Shakespeare’s Pizza. I really love the restaurant scene.”
As a self-proclaimed milkshake connoisseur, and coming from Wisconsin — often referred to as “America’s Dairyland” — Ransom says he was somewhat surprised, and completely thrilled, to discover a hidden gem within driving distance.
“Central Dairy in Jefferson City has some of the best milkshakes I’ve stumbled across,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting to get that level of ice cream expertise, but Central Dairy is on point.”
Ransom says he’s become invested in Tiger sports after enjoying “an amazing season” from the football team, and he says he is looking forward to basketball season and watching a team that is “incredibly well coached and off to a reasonable start.”
In his downtime at home, Ransom says he finds relaxation in the world of science fiction, fantasy, and Star Wars.
“I am a fairly significant nerd,” he admits. “I love Star Wars, comic books, and super hero movies. Right now there is an option on Disney-plus where you can go through and watch every Star Wars movie and animated series in time order. I am doing that, and I would be embarrassed to tell you how many hours of Star Wars I’ve been watching. It’s a good way for me to decompress.”