Senior Vice President, Legal Services & Deputy General Counsel
Christine McCoy’s legal career has unfolded in ways she couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.
For one, she said she didn’t intend to build a practice, or a career, of providing legal representation to hospitals.
“I always say, a lot of times, you don’t necessarily plan the exact course of your career,” she said. “Doors open, and you take the chance.”
Taking a chance has worked in McCoy’s favor — today, she is senior vice president of legal services and deputy general counsel of Ascension, the country’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system. It employs more than 150,000 people at more than 1,900 sites in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
The native of Collinsville, Illinois, said she developed an interest in becoming a lawyer in high school. A business law class during her undergraduate years solidified that interest. Her professor in that class encouraged her to take the LSAT, which she did.
McCoy went on to attend Saint Louis University School of Law, where she earned her degree in 1994. After graduating, she joined the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where she served for two years as assistant attorney general in administrative and appellate matters.
From the AG’s office, McCoy joined Brinker, Doyen & Kovacs in St. Louis, working there for a year as a litigator specializing in representing hospital systems and physicians. She also worked in the area of employment law.
At her next firm, McMahon, Berger, Hanna, Linihan, Cody & McCarthy, she continued to specialize in labor and employment law.
When she joined Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis in 1998, she returned to representing hospitals and doctors. She worked as an associate, then as a partner, until she joined Ascension as director of claims & litigation in 2004.
Contacts at Brinker led McCoy to positions at Armstrong Teasdale and also Ascension. When it came to her current employer, she said she wasn’t looking, but a former Brinker contact reached out to her about starting an in-house litigation claims team at the company.
Since joining Ascension, she’s served as vice president of risk management, then senior vice president of legal services and general counsel for Ascension Healthcare. In 2017, she took on her current role.
McCoy said what set the company apart in her initial talks with its leaders was that “they truly walk the talk when it comes to the mission.”
“Our decisions and how we get to decisions really always does bring us back to our mission and our purpose for serving the poor and vulnerable,” she said.
One such example: a program that allowed hospital attorneys to apologize to patients who did not receive treatment meeting the standard of care. McCoy said that was unheard of at the time because of concerns that it, as well as settling cases, could set a bad precedent for the system.
“It is about doing the absolute right thing for our patients in the community we’re in,” she said.
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