It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Garry Faja, the longtime president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor who served as the first regional CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. Garry passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, July 21, in his home in Traverse City.
His extraordinary leadership and vision united the southeast Michigan Trinity Health hospitals into one large regional health delivery system, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
In addition to this major achievement, Garry made many significant contributions over his 32-year career with St. Joe’s. Some of the major revitalization and expansion projects he led include the creation of a 15-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 2001 and the new patient towers and surgery pavilion at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor; a two-story addition with 54 private rooms and new Emergency Department at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea; a new eight-story tower with 136 acute care private beds at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and a 154,000 square foot addition at St. Mary Mercy Livonia.
With a background in engineering, Garry’s indelible handprint is evident in details throughout the patient tower at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, from the position of the patient bed to the automatic night light that illuminates the floor for patients.
His touch can be seen throughout St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in other ways, such as the Century of Caring exhibit in the hospital lobby which features a large image of the hospital made up entirely of photos of individuals who have served in the ministry of St. Joe’s. This display reflects Garry’s deep commitment to patients as well his dedication to both employees and medical staff.
“Regardless of how health care has changed over the past 30 years, Garry has always said it’s about people caring for people,” said Sister Yvonne Gellise, Senior Advisor for Governance at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, who added that Faja has valued the legacy of this hospital started by the Sisters of Mercy.
“Garry has always appreciated the presence of the Sisters, and he felt fortunate that we were still serving in the hospital. He would periodically stop by the Sisters’ house in the late afternoon to give us an update and ask about our concerns or ideas.”
Garry was very active in the community, including serving as a key voice in Medicaid expansion, a founding member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, and a founder of the Mercy Cancer Network. He was instrumental in the establishment of The Quality Institute at St. Joe’s as well as Michigan’s first Senior ER program and supported the major expansion of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea making them the newest member of our health system.
A leader in the health care industry, Garry served as chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Board—receiving its notable Meritorious Service Award in 2014—and was also a delegate for the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board.
Garry is survived by his wife Barbara, who has dedicated countless hours to fundraising and other philanthropic efforts for the health system, and daughter Christine.
Please see the obituary for more information. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.