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McClatchy-Tribune  06/13/2014 11:35 PM ET
Columbus Regional Health CEO Chuck Stark resigns [Columbus Ledger-Enquirer :: ]

June 13--Columbus Regional Health President and Chief Executive Officer Charles A. "Chuck" Stark has resigned effective immediately, the company confirmed Friday.

Stark, who assumed his job on Feb. 6, 2012, has driven massive changes at Columbus Regional, which operates the region's largest hospital, Midtown Medical Center. He offered his resignation at a called Columbus Regional board meeting late Thursday, according to a news release put out by the company.

The board appointed Columbus Regional Chief Operating Officer Scott Hill as interim CEO. He is expected to continue as COO, according to Columbus Regional.

"I believe this is the right time to transition to a new chief executive officer," Stark said in the release. "It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to lead Columbus Regional Health through a dynamic time in health care, and I know the institution has a very bright future. I thank the directors, the management team, our medical and administrative staff for their support and confidence during my tenure."

Senior Vice President and General Counsel L.M. Layfield III said Stark told the board he planned to work in a new business venture started by his son, Conner.

Stark could not be reached for comment and did not return a call left at his Columbus Regional office.

He came to Columbus Regional from Firelands Regional Health System in Sandusky, Ohio, where he was chief executive officer. He replaced longtime Columbus Regional CEO Larry Sanders.

Columbus Regional is a health care system that employs about 2,800 full- and part-time people. Aside from Midtown Medical Center, it also operates Doctors Specialty Hospital, Northside Medical Center, the John B. Amos Cancer Center and Tidwell Cancer Treatment Center. It also is in a joint venture with HealthSouth in Phenix City at the Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.

"We are grateful to Chuck Stark for his years of service and very much admire his record of accomplishments," said Eugene (Gene) Demonet, chairman of the Columbus Regional Health board of directors, whose term expires at the end of this month. "We are grateful Chuck created the strategic direction that will propel our organization forward. Our organization, and by extension the entire Columbus region, will be a better place because of Chuck's ideas and initiatives. We are sorry to see him go but we respect his decision to move on."

Driving change

Since arriving in Columbus in February 2012, Stark made a number of dramatic and -- for some in the community -- unsettling moves in his quest to make the hospital more efficient, profitable and patient friendly.

"Our vision is to become nationally recognized for our clinical outcomes and for our world-famous customer service," Stark said in an interview several months after taking charge of the system. "It's very simple. That's much different than the lengthy vision that we had before."

There have been big changes in the management team since Stark's arrival. Many of the company's top executives have left or retired. Only Layfield and Wayne Joiner, senior vice president of human resources, remain on the management team.

Stark's rapid-fire changes were across the board. A major one was the decision to change the names of the system and its hospitals -- which they had held for decades -- and alter or add to some of their functions.

Columbus Regional Healthcare System became Columbus Regional Health, adopting the tagline, "Pursue Your Healthy." The system's flagship hospital, The Medical Center, became Midtown Medical Center, with the system receiving state approval to perform a basic cardiac procedure -- installing heart stents -- something previously done locally only at St. Francis Hospital.

Stark also pulled the trigger on turning Hughston Hospital -- which always had been an orthopedic surgery facility -- into a traditional hospital with an emergency room and plans to begin delivering babies there. Though the latter hasn't been approved by the state,


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