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KershawHealth board chooses Gunn to be interim CEO

Executive committee authorized to negotiate contract

Posted: November 22, 2013 4:28 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2013 5:00 a.m.

It didn’t take long Friday morning for the KershawHealth Board of Trustees to choose Terry J. Gunn as the person members would like to have as the healthcare organization’s interim chief executive officer (CEO).

Gunn is the executive chairman and senior operating partner of Applied Healthcare Solutions of Tulsa, Okla., and an executive advisor with Charter Resource Group, headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. He previously served in several senior executive positions with the Hospital Corporation of America, including as CEO of Trident Health System in Charleston.

Gunn was one of two finalists the board named earlier this week, along with David E. Loving who, until earlier this year, served as CEO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elgin, N.C. The board’s executive search committee received 28 applications and interviewed five candidates. The full board chose to interview Gunn, Loving and former Palmetto Health CEO Kester S. Freeman Jr. before voting on its two finalists Tuesday evening.

Friday’s special called meeting began at 8:20 a.m. with all nine members attending the meeting. The board quickly entered executive session in order to discuss the finalists. The board came out of executive session only about 10 minutes later, with Chair Karen Eckford entertaining any motions on topics from the closed-door portion of the meeting.

Trustee Paul Napper made the motion to extend an offer to Gunn, with Trustee Eric Boland seconding. Trustees voted unanimously, with no discussion, in favor of Napper’s motion.

Trustee Derial Ogburn then made a separate motion, seconded by Trustee Steve Holliday Jr., to authorize the board’s executive committee -- made up of Eckford, Napper and Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom -- to “enter into negotiations with the interim CEO to establish an employment agreement mutually agreeable to the parties.”

The only comment made before trustees voted on Ogburn’s motion came from Trustee Susan Outen who called it a “good plan.” The board then voted unanimously in favor of Ogburn’s motion.

Before Eckford called for a motion to adjourn, Ogburn said he wanted to thank her, Napper, Holliday and Holmstrom for their work on the executive search committee.

“I know you dedicated a lot of time and effort, and probably some expense in walking us through the process,” Ogburn said. “I think it’s worked excellently and I think we have a great candidate here, and I’m ready to move forward.”

In a press release issued later Friday morning, Eckford noted how important it was to find an interim CEO.

“As a board, we realized how critical the appointment of an interim CEO was to the future of KershawHealth, and we are confident that Terry Gunn brings the breadth of experience necessary to guide us through this transition,” Eckford said. “Healthcare reform and changing patterns in the way Americans access healthcare represent significant challenges for hospitals across the country. In this period of dramatic change, and while we are conducting a nationwide search for a permanent CEO, we can all rest assured that our hospital is in very capable hands.”

If he chooses to accept the position, Gunn will replace Donnie Weeks, who has served as president and CEO of KershawHealth for 16 years. Weeks announced his intention to retire earlier this year and negotiated an exit package that will have him leave KershawHealth on Jan. 3, 2014.

In Friday’s press release, Eckford said the board’s plan is to have Gunn in place with sufficient time for a smooth transition, and that his official start date would be announced once negotiations are completed.

(The online version of this story has been corrected to reflect that the special called meeting began at 8:20 a.m., the time at which it was scheduled and not 8 a.m. Therefore, no trustee arrived late, as indicated in the original copy. The story has also been corrected to properly identify one of the trustees as Eric Boland, not Bobby Boland. The C-I regrets the errors. A correction appeared in the print edition of the C-I for Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013..)

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