Marjorie Bessel, MD, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, has been named one of the nation’s 2021 Top 25 Women Leaders by Modern Healthcare, one of the country’s leading publications on health care news.

This prestigious award program recognizes women in leadership, spotlighting their administrative and professional accomplishments. The women named to this list are developing policy, leading change and guiding health care delivery improvement across the country.

“I congratulate Dr. Bessel on this well-deserved recognition. Her leadership both before and during the pandemic is an inspiration to all of us who have the privilege of working with her,” said Peter Fine, Banner’s president and CEO. “Few clinical leaders have had as great an impact as Dr. Bessel. She has been pivotal in helping Banner Health achieve the very best care for our patients and has served as a trusted mentor to ensure well-being for our team members and clinicians.”

Bessel is the highest-ranking physician and clinician for Banner, one of the largest secular nonprofit health care systems in the country, with more than 52,000 employees and 30 hospitals across six states. She is responsible for driving the clinical quality of care across the continuum and for overseeing performance and safety improvement. She also oversees all information technology and informatics and is the executive sponsor for programs to address physician wellness and burnout, a key challenge during the pandemic.

As Banner’s pandemic “incident commander,” she has motivated colleagues and associates in being nimble, creative and unwaveringly focused on fighting the pandemic’s effects across Banner’s six-state service area—and led Arizona’s largest health system in continuously caring for 45% of all COVID hospitalized patients in the state.

Bessel was the first clinical leader in Arizona to voice concerns in the media about an early trend of COVID case increases in the state. After seeing New York’s response as the nation’s first major hot spot, she partnered with other chief clinical officers throughout the state to ensure that hospitals throughout Arizona—urban, rural, private, public and Indian Health Service—worked collaboratively in their pandemic response. The group of clinical leaders agreed to load balance patients, to ensure that no one hospital would reach triage levels so long as other hospitals had capacity. This led to creation of the Arizona Surge Line at the Arizona Department of Health Services (AzDHS). AzDHS consulted with Banner Health Transfer Services to implement the workflows and technology to manage COVID-19 patient flow statewide. Dr. Bessel has remained highly visible in the media throughout the pandemic, providing transparent information to members of the community about hospital capacity, mitigation and more.

“I am truly honored by this recognition, particularly after such a daunting, unprecedented year in health care,” said Bessel. “During the pandemic, my colleagues at Banner—frontline health care workers, support staff and leadership—have shown heroic levels of dedication in fighting for our patients’ care and safety, against this devastating virus.”

The Class of 2021 is published in this week’s issue with profiles of the winners, at

Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit