Palomar Health Board of Directors has named Robert (Bob) Hemker as the new president and chief executive officer of Palomar Health, effective August 15. Bob has served as the chief financial officer for Palomar Health for the past thirteen years, including a stint as interim CEO in 2002.

After careful deliberation, the board made this unanimous decision on June 23, following the resignation announcement by Michael Covert on May 30. Covert, who accepted a position as the regional market chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives St. Luke’s Health System in Houston, TX, will leave Palomar Health on August 15.

“We are delighted to make this appointment as part of the succession plan and policy developed several years ago,” said Palomar Health Board of Directors Chairman Ted Kleiter. “Bob has the level of experience and background to lead Palomar Health through these challenging times. With his leadership in the financial arena and his close working relationship with the executive management team and medical staff leadership, he was a natural choice.”

As president and CEO, Hemker will report to the board of directors, serve as the senior executive for Palomar Health, and be responsible for providing overall strategic direction and leadership throughout the health district. This includes operational and strategic oversight of Palomar Medical Center, Palomar Health Downtown Campus and Pomerado Hospital, along with the district’s other services such as expresscare health clinics, the orthopedic institute and the women’s center.

“I believe that Bob is the right person at the right time to nurture the growth and implementation of key initiatives that will take Palomar Health to new heights of performance and recognition on behalf of the patients and families we serve,” said Michael Covert, Palomar Health president and CEO.

Hemker has more than thirty years in the healthcare industry and was appointed as chief financial officer of Palomar Health in May 2001. His extensive experience includes managing the financial and operational aspects of healthcare organizations and working closely with the community, physicians and board representatives.  His career also includes CFO, COO and CEO experience in for-profit, not-for-profit and governmental acute care hospitals in Southern California and Hawaii.

“I am humbled by the faith the board has shown in me,” said Hemker. “I am excited to have the privilege of continuing to serve Palomar Health in the role of president and CEO. The opportunity to continue executing the strategic direction and focus developed under Michael’s legacy is appreciated. I look forward to working during this time of unprecedented change in health care with our board, leadership, medical staff and employees to strengthen the future for Palomar Health in serving the health needs of our patients and community.”

As a seasoned professional, Hemker is a frequent speaker at the local, regional and national level on healthcare financial management topics. He is past-president of the local Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) chapter, sat on the California Hospital Association (CHA) Board of Trustees and serves on various boards and committees, including: Chair of the VHA West Coast Purchasing Coalition; Association of California Healthcare Districts’ Finance Committee and its workers’ compensation entity; Chair of the ALPHA Council; and Chair of BETAlliance Insurance Services. In addition, Hemker is a board member of The Elizabeth Hospice.

Hemker is an accounting graduate of San Diego State University and received his Master’s in Healthcare Administration from University of La Verne. He and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Carlsbad and enjoy spending time with their three children, their spouses, and the couple’s four grandchildren.

In the coming weeks, a succession plan will be announced to fill the CFO position that will be vacant as of August 15

About Palomar Health
Palomar Health is the most comprehensive health care delivery system in northern San Diego County and the first and only California member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. It is the largest public health-care district by area in the state, with more than 500,000 residents, and is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors. Palomar Health has several facilities serving North County, including hospitals in Escondido and Poway, expresscare health clinics in Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos, San Elijo Hills and Temecula, and a skilled nursing facility in Poway. The health system provides medical services in virtually all fields of medicine, including primary care, cardiovascular care, emergency services, trauma, cancer, orthopedics, women’s health, rehabilitation, robotic surgery and bariatric surgery. For more information about Palomar Health, please visit