St. Dominic Health Services’ President Announces Plans to Retire

JACKSON – Claude W. Harbarger, FACHE, has informed St. Dominic’s leadership, medical staff and employees of his intention to retire as the President of St. Dominic Health Services, Inc. (SDHS or St. Dominic’s) effective June 30, after having served the St. Dominic’s organization for the past 32 years.


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. “The decision has been made in full and cordial collaboration with the Dominican Sisters, the SDHS Board of Directors and the leadership of FMOLHS.”
Lester K. Diamond, who serves as President of St. Dominic Hospital, will also begin serving as President of St. Dominic Health Services on July 1. In this expanded role Diamond will participate as a member of the executive and operating leadership team for FMOLHS. He joins CEOs from each of the FMOLHS ministry markets who are likewise supported by the system in implementing the health system’s strategic plan, prioritizing operational excellence and leading integration and growth.
“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 on January 1, 2012, following Dominican Sister M. Dorothea Sondgeroth’s retirement from the position.


Harbarger began his administrative career in 1978 at Humana Hospital Augusta, Georgia. His professional activities include fellowship in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He currently serves as a member of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Board of Directors, the Mississippi True Board of Directors and on multiple committees of the Mississippi Hospital Association.
Harbarger is a member of First Presbyterian Church where he serves as an Elder. He and his wife Karis reside in the Jackson area and 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, Tenn. 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, Georgia and Charter Plains Hospital in Lubbock, Texas, where he also served as the Human Resource Director.
In 1988, Diamond accepted the position of Chief Operating Officer at Laurelwood where he was responsible for directing the daily operations of all clinical programs and ancillary services.
Diamond joined St. Dominic Hospital in 1992 as Vice President for the North Campus. 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 Claude W. Harbarger as President of St. Dominic Hospital on January 1, 2012, when Harbarger was promoted to president of St. Dominic Health Services.
Diamond serves on the board of the Mississippi Hospital Association, where he is the current Chairman. In addition, he serves on executive boards for the Mississippi Housing Partnership, Mississippi Health Partners and Vizient Southern States.
The Diamond family attends St. Richard Catholic Church. Diamond and his wife Gina live in Jackson, Mississippi and have two sons, Andrew and Eric.