Alexander Garza, M.D., M.P.H.

Chief Community Health Officer, SSM Health

Dr. Garza was appointed to the MRIGlobal Board of Directors in 2014. As Chief Community Health Officer, Alexander Garza is responsible for deepening SSM Health’s focus on social determinants of health, equity, and social justice, as well as supporting the work of SSM Health’s transition to population health.

Dr. Garza has decades of experience in public health, quality and safety and policy development. He organized and led SSM Health’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic and then assumed the role of Incident Commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, overseeing the region’s coordinated response efforts.

Dr. Garza became Chief Community Health Officer in August 2020, after serving as Chief Medical Officer since 2018, overseeing quality, patient safety and clinical analytics. Prior to this role, he served as SSM Health’s Chief Quality Officer, as well as Chief Medical Officer for the St. Louis region.

Board-certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Garza has decades of experience practicing medicine and teaching in higher education. Before joining SSM Health, he was an Associate Dean and Professor at the Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice. He has published numerous original research scientific papers in peer reviewed journals and lectured nationally and internationally.

Prior to returning to St. Louis, he served as Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He was the legislated health, medical and biodefense authority for the Department and played a critical role in protecting the United States from threats of terrorism and natural disasters, including pandemics. Dr. Garza is also a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves with more than 20 years of service. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  He currently serves as the Command Surgeon for the 352 Civil Affairs Command. He has received numerous awards for his service, including the Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star.

Dr. Garza received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a master’s degree in public health from Saint Louis University. Prior to going to medical school, Dr. Garza was a paramedic and flight medic.