Carondelet Health Network President and CEO Ruth W. Brinkley is leaving that post Oct. 16 after four years at the helm of the local company.

Brinkley has accepted a new role as an "executive in residence" with Carondelet's parent company, Ascension Health. Brinkley will be moving into an advocacy position in Washington, D.C., where she'll work on projects related to implementation of the new federal health-care law.

"Having a representative who is a credible voice for expressing the delivery system impact of the new law comes at an extremely important time," a Carondelet news release said Tuesday.

Ascension Health and the Carondelet board have appointed an Ascension senior vice president, James K. Beckmann Jr., as interim president and CEO, starting Oct. 17.

The Carondelet Health Network, which has a workforce of nearly 4,700, is the 12th-largest employer in Southern Arizona, according to the Star 200 survey. The nonprofit Catholic health-care company operates four hospitals in Southern Arizona as well as the Carondelet Neurological Institute, 20 primary- and specialty-care offices, two ambulatory-surgery centers and various outpatient services.

"Ruth has led Carondelet during a very challenging time, and her dedication to the health ministry's mission and values has never wavered," Robert J. Henkel, president of health-care operations and chief operating officer of St. Louis-based Ascension Health, said in a prepared statement.

Brinkley, a former nurse, became Carondelet CEO on Dec. 31, 2007. Before that she was president and CEO of Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a vice president at DePaul Health Center in St. Louis.

In his current job as Ascension senior vice president for support systems, Beckmann has executive management responsibility for risk management and corporate responsibility. He joined Ascension in 2003 after 16 years in the insurance industry.

Did you know?

Carondelet was founded by the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet 131 years ago. Carondelet Health Network hospitals include Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital, Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital and Carondelet Heart & Vascular Institute - all in Tucson - and Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, Ariz.

Contact Star reporter Stephanie Innes at sinnes@azstarnet.com or 574-4134.