DEMOREST — Habersham Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Barbara Duncan has been named acting chief executive officer, replacing CEO Jerry Wise, who served since April 2013.
The announcement was made by Hospital Authority of Habersham County Chairman Kim Crawford Thursday afternoon.
Duncan, who joined Habersham Medical Center in January 2014, has more than 26 years’ experience in healthcare, with the last 16 years at the senior management level. She has been instrumental in the turnaround and stabilization of two rural hospitals in Georgia, according to Crawford.
Duncan will serve until the authority identifies an interim or permanent CEO, according to Crawford.
Crawford acknowledged the contributions Wise has made during his more than four years at the helm.
“During Jerry’s tenure, Habersham was recognized as the Georgia Coverdell Champion ‘Hospital of the Year’ for stroke care in the small hospital category and received multiple awards from Georgia Hospital Association related to patient safety,” Crawford said in a written statement.
“Like many hospitals locally and nationally, Habersham has struggled to adapt to the tumultuous healthcare environment; the hospital sustained operating losses for the past several years, as utilization and reimbursements declined,” Crawford’s statement reads. “As a new permanent CEO is identified, the authority continues to explore partnership and affiliation options to sustain the facility as a full-service acute-care hospital to meet a growing service area population. Habersham is one of only two hospitals within a 55-mile radius that is not affiliated with or part of a health system.”
Earlier this week, a leadership change was announced at the other of those two hospitals – Stephens County Hospital. There, the Stephens County Hospital Authority Board of Directors named Roger Forgey to serve as interim CEO.
The Hospital Authority of Habersham County is optimistic about the future of that facility.
“We are committed to working with hospital leadership and a future partner to ensure access to needed services locally, including primary and specialty care service and ready access to tertiary care services,” said Hospital Authority of Habersham County Vice Chairman Jack Fulbright in a statement.
Fulbright said the authority’s top priority is to maintain and enhance the long-term financial viability of Habersham Medical Center, while recruiting and retaining providers and experienced nursing staff, stemming the outmigration of patients, and preserving local employment opportunities.
About Habersham Medical Center
Habersham Medical Center is a 53-bed, not-for-profit, acute care facility providing healthcare to more than 80,000 residents of Habersham and adjoining counties. The hospital employs more than 600 people and has an annual operating budget of $42 million.