UNION — Outgoing Union Hospital District CEO Tim Merritt praised the hard work of the district’s staff and physicians for helping make his two years in office a success.
Merritt tendered his resignation as CEO to the Union Hospital District Board on March 14 t0 take advantage of an employment opportunity in Atlanta which would be nearer to his home in Georgia. Another factor in Merritt’s decision to resign is that his wife is taking special medical treatment in Atlanta and it would be more convenient for her for them to live in the area.
After accepting Merritt’s resignation, the board appointed the district’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Newhouse as CEO.
Merritt will turn over his duties to Newhouse within the next week or so and is working closely with him during the transition period.
“I feel I’m leaving it in good hands,” Merritt said Thursday afternoon. “Paul and I have worked together on and off for 20 years. I think he will continue to take the course this organization needs to remain vital and successful.”
Looking back at the past two years, Merritt pointed out that the achievements of those years was due to the hard work and dedication of the district’s staff.
“There’s a lot of proud achievements,” Merritt said. “I think the first and biggest thing we did was the implementation of the new computer system. That involved the entire hospital staff as well as the physicians. Our staff was very dedicated and committed to making it successful.
“The next thing is we completed our triennial Joint Commission survey that was held this past October,” he said. “We received exceptional survey results that were quoted by the Joint Commission as being one of the best in the history of this organization. It basically said what we’ve been saying about the quality of care we have here.”
Earlier this month, Merritt pointed to the findings of the Joint Commission to refute an online article from health.com that dubbed Wallace Thomson Hospital one of the 25 worst in America. He pointed out at the time that the Joint Commission is the national accrediting body which measures most American hospitals and he reiterated the importance of the commission’s findings regarding the hospital.
“The Joint Commission is the standard when it comes to judging what kind of facility or organization you operate,” Merritt said.
In 2011, the district, which for 20 years had been managed by outside firms, became locally managed and began an effort to make Wallace Thomson into what Merritt described as a “state-of-the-art hospital providing state-of-the-art care.” He said this week that the district has made great strides toward achieving that goal.
“The other things that we have done is equipment upgrades to keep our technology at the state-of-the-art levels,” Merritt said. “We have some of the best diagnostic capabilities that you would find at other facilities.
“The other achievement that is an ongoing process that we’ve been successful at is recruitment of physicians,” he said. “We’ve recruited nine physicians of various specialties over the past two years. We hope that residents of Union County and surrounding areas will utilize the services of the physicians and our associated hospital services as well.”
Merritt said the efforts to improve the aesthetic appearance of the hospital have also borne fruit with both the Joint Commission and patients describing Wallace Thomson as one of the cleanest facilities they’ve been in.
While many of the challenges the district faced when it became locally managed have been met with success, Merritt said work remains to be done, especially in the area finances. The district, which has been losing $2 million to $3 million a year, is in the process of implementing $3 million worth of spending reductions in a bid to begin breaking even. Merritt said that despite the financial challenges facing it, the district continues to provide high-quality health care for the people of Union County.
“There’s still work to be done to improve finances, but at the end of the day we are still delivering high-quality patient care to everyone that walks through the door,” Merritt said.
Merritt again praised the district’s staff for their hard work and their commitment to the community.
“Our staff has been community-minded, that was evident the past two Christmases where our employees throughout the district donated thousands of dollars worth of toys to the WBCU Truck Full of Toys Christmas campaign to help families in need over the holiday season,” Merritt said. “From a staffing standpoint we’ve got a great staff, great nurses. It’s a tremendous group of people, many of whom have many years of tenure at this organization.”
Merritt thanked the staff, the board, and all the rest who have supported him during his tenure as CEO.
“I’m grateful for all the support in my time here,” Merritt said. “I’ve made some lifelong friends. I wish everyone well.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.