Kester S. Freeman, Jr.
Mr. Freeman is the retired founding Chief Executive Officer of Palmetto Health, the largest integrated healthcare delivery system in South Carolina. Palmetto Health includes a regional teaching hospital and tertiary center, an acute care hospital, a heart hospital, a children’s hospital, and a psychiatric hospital.
Mr. Freeman is president of KSF Consulting, LLC. In that capacity, he serves as a healthcare consultant to Palmetto Health and to the law firm of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, PC. He also serves as chair of the South Carolina Research Foundation Board, as a member and chair of the finance committee of the Virginia Healthcare Foundation Board, as chair of the Premier, Inc., Blog Group, as a member of the advisory committee of Perfect Select, Inc., and as a member of the Palmetto Health Foundation board. He previously served as a member of the American Hospital Association’s Mental Health Task Force, as founding chair of the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Universal Coverage Work Group, and as a member of the Sabal Medical, Inc., board,
As Chief Executive Officer of Palmetto Health, Mr. Freeman spearheaded the creation and development of Health Sciences South Carolina – an inclusive, collaborative, public-private partnership that brings together universities, health systems, and other partners committed to the vision of using health science education and research to drive economic growth and improved health status throughout the state. He served as founding chair of the Health Sciences South Carolina board, which is currently comprised of the Greenville Hospital System, the Medical University of South Carolina, Palmetto Health, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University.
Mr. Freeman is the recipient of the South Carolina Hospital Association’s 1998 Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor presented to individuals who have contributed significantly to health care in South Carolina. He also received the Association’s Merit Award for Distinguished Service. He served as chair of the South Carolina Hospital Association board, as chair of the Carolina HealthChoice Network board, as a member of the American Hospital Association’s Organizational Ethics Task Force, as a COTH representative to the Association of American Medical Colleges Assembly, as a member of Duke University’s Alumni Association board and as president of that university’s Hospital and Health Administration Alumni Association, and as chair of the H. Carl Rowland Memorial Library board of The Duke Endowment. He also served for seven years as a member of the Premier, Inc. board of directors and as chair of their audit committee, as a member of the National Committee on Quality Health Care board, and as a delegate to the Academy for International Health Studies.
In his role as a community leader, Mr. Freeman served as founding chair and member of the executive committee of the City Center Partnership board, chair of the United Way of the Midlands board, as a member of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce executive committee and board, as chair of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce board, and as a founding member of the Midlands Business Leadership Group executive committee and board.
Mr. Freeman earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from the College of William and Mary where he also minored in Sociology. He earned his master’s degree in Hospital Administration from Duke University. He began his career in health care administration as an officer in the US Navy’s Medical Service Corp and at the Greenville Hospital System. He subsequently served as executive vice president at The Fairfax Hospital Association, now known as INOVA, and later returned to South Carolina where he served as chief executive officer and president of Richland Memorial Hospital. In that capacity he helped spearhead the merger in 1998 of Richland Memorial Hospital and Baptist Healthcare System, Inc., into what is now known as Palmetto Health.