Oconee Regional appoints acting CEO as it continues turnaround

A week after Oconee Regional Medical Center received notice that its chief executive officer planned to resign, the hospital appointed acting CEO -- and its long-standing CFO, Brenda Qualls.

Jean Aycock had notified the board May 20 she planned to resign.

Although Aycock’s resignation was effective Monday, Qualls began serving as CEO as of this past Friday, according to a release from Oconee Regional.

“The board also appreciates Jean’s service to our community hospital,” the release stated. “Under her tenure as CEO, the hospital has achieved strong quality and clinical scores,” other awards and added 14 new physicians.

“These leadership changes have occurred while ORMC is in the midst of a difficult turnaround that is showing progress,” the release stated. “Less than seven months ago the hospital’s very existence was threatened. Over the past months the board has done extraordinary work to ensure our locally-governed hospital continues to provide great health care -- and great jobs -- for our community in the face of financial challenges.”

The hospital credits its “continuing turnaround” to its support services agreement last fall with Macon-based Navicent Health. Since the agreement was signed, Navicent has guaranteed the payments on Oconee Regional’s $24 million bank debt, it helped Oconee develop new programs to improve revenue and local access to health care services, and helped reduce annual expenses by nearly $4 million, the release stated.

“In spite of all this good work, ORMC will still face significant losses this fiscal year as government reimbursements to hospitals continue to be slashed and health care reform impacts everyone.”

“However, for the first time in a long time, ORMC is turning the corner. We remain very hopeful about ORMC’s future as a locally-owned and locally-governed centerpiece of our community.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.