Debbie Simon Announces Retirement from UnityPoint Health

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Debbie Simon Announces Retirement from UnityPoint Health

Debbie Simon and Keith Knepp, MD

Debbie Simon, chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health™ in Central Illinois, has announced she will retire June 30, 2019, after a 43-year career with the organization. 

“Debbie has passionately served our organization and our community every day for decades,” stated UnityPoint Health’s Central Illinois Board of Directors chair Dennis Triggs. “Always mission-driven, she has been a true champion for patients and families and an extraordinary leader to our physicians, nurses and team members.”

Simon earned a bachelor’s degree of nursing from the University of Illinois and began her career in 1976 as a nurse at Methodist Hospital. Later, she received a master’s degree in business administration from Bradley University and completed a Wharton Nurse Executive Fellowship and Henry Crown Fellowship. She rose through the ranks of clinical and operational leadership at Methodist to eventually serve as regional chief executive officer.

“Debbie will long be remembered for the legacy of health care progress she leaves in Peoria and its surrounding communities,” remarked Kevin Vermeer, president and chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health. “She was instrumental in leading the regional affiliation with UnityPoint Health and has since fostered continuous growth and development to ensure quality care for the people and families of Central Illinois. We are grateful for her partnership and her many contributions.”

Following the 2011 integration of Methodist with Midwest-based UnityPoint Health, one of the nation’s largest non-profit, nondenominational integrated health systems, Simon led the expansion of its strong Peoria presence further into Central Illinois. Methodist affiliated with Proctor Hospital in 2013 and Pekin Hospital in 2017, increasing access to UnityPoint Health services and expanding physician clinics throughout the region. Under her leadership, Methodist College has grown to more than 600 students pursuing certificate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees.

Simon is also known and respected as a champion of the community. She has served on several local boards including the Peoria and Pekin Chambers of Commerce, National Council of Advisors for Bradley University’s Foster College of Business, GPEDC, Wildlife Prairie Park and Bradley University.

The board of directors has named Dr. Keith Knepp as Simon’s successor. Formerly a family medicine physician in Eureka, Ill., Knepp currently serves as president of UnityPoint Health’s hospitals and clinics in Peoria. Like Simon, he has spent his career with the organization and has held a number of leadership positions over the last decade, including chief medical informatics officer and chief operating officer. Knepp will assume the role of chief executive officer on April 1 and will work with Simon on the transition of leadership and other strategic initiatives until she officially retires on June 30.