Is the doctor in?

January 29, 2012 

Now that A. Donald Faulk, Jr. has announced he’ll be retiring after 15-years as chief executive officer at the Medical Center of Central Georgia, a team made up of physicians and community leaders, with the help of Tyler and Company, an executive search firm, will be commissioned to scour the southeast to locate his successor.

The next person in charge will inherit an incredible community asset with thousands of moving pieces, not to mention taking the reins of Macon/Bibb’s largest employer, a $700 million annual budget and $350 million annual payroll.

MCCG was recently named the best in vascular services, one of 17 categories complied by HealthGrades, Inc., a leading health-care ratings organization based in Denver. That ranking was better than Emory (No. 6) and St. Joseph’s (No. 10), both in Atlanta.

At cocktail parties, business and civic events, individuals that make up the “search party” will be given unsolicited submissions from valuable voices in the region, delivered, I’m sure, with the purest intent. I sympathize with these local folk as they attempt to assuage the concerns of the public, staff and governmental leaders with the best candidate for the hospital culture.

Can’t you hear the broad range of recommendations forthcoming?

It is time to mull over the idea of a female in that role.

Do not consider anyone without an M.B.A. and extraordinary credentials from the finest university.

Breadth and depth is important. The likely person should have served on staff at a facility known for clinical excellence and multiple specialties.

Ideally, the focus will be external. I know all of Don’s senior team members and we need a fresh start.

Money is at issue and you’d better get that base salary and incentive compensation down below a million dollars a year.

Like many other voices that’ll be murmuring, I have one more unsolicited thought (take a deep breath); perhaps now’s the right time to have a physician serve as the next CEO (exhale). Who better understands the core of the health-care industry?

The publication Academic Medicine indicates that of the 6,500 hospitals in our country, only 235 are run by physician administrators.

New research that is detailed in the journal Social Science & Medicine and in a recent New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope suggests that having a doctor at the top of the management team is connected to overall better patient care and makes for a well-rounded hospital.

Although I must admit, I was puzzled when the story never gave any explanation as to why the doctor-run hospitals score better.

The findings are based on a review of 300 top-ranked American hospitals in the specialties of cancer and heart surgery. Each hospital’s chief executive’s professional background was tracked and then a comparison was conducted between hospitals that were physician run versus those managed by individuals with a nonmedical background.

Overall hospital quality scores were nearly 25 percent higher when doctors ran the hospital. For cancer care, doctor-run facilities posted scores 33 percent higher.

It is fitting to thank former CEO’s Damon King and Don Faulk for leading the way and preparing us to navigate through the next phase of what appears to be a very difficult health care transition. King’s extraordinary vision brought about a respected and refined world class medical facility. In that same spirit, Damon’s illustrious dream was extended by Faulk through immeasurable business decisions. Faulk will be remembered for his capacity to lead in difficult economic times and an ability to see “the big picture.”

The hunt for the next effective leader should be taken seriously. There’s a 28 county service area depending on the proper prescription.

Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program.

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