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Gunn begins as interim KershawHealth CEO

Posted: December 5, 2013 5:42 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Terry J. Gunn is now acting as KershawHealth’s interim chief executive officer (CEO). Gunn signed an employment agreement Wednesday with KershawHealth Board of Trustees Chair Karen Eckford and began working that day.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to work with everyone, and confident that we can make this a successful transition,” Gunn said in a statement released by KershawHealth Wednesday afternoon. “I recognize that KershawHealth is in the company of many other community healthcare systems facing significant challenges, but that’s OK … there are solutions and we’ll work together to develop them.”

According to a copy of the employment agreement obtained by the Chronicle-Independent through a S.C. Freedom of Information Act request, KershawHealth will pay Gunn a base salary of $25,000 per month, equivalent to a $300,000 annual salary. No bonuses are listed in the agreement.

KershawHealth is hiring Gunn on a “temporary full time basis” as interim CEO. Gunn will work for KershawHealth on a month-to-month basis, with the agreement automatically renewing on the last day of each month unless otherwise terminated by either himself or the board.

Gunn will also receive a housing and travel allowance of $2,000 per month to “cover all expenses for housing and travel to and from his primary residence in Summerville” to Camden. He will also be reimbursed for up to $2,000 for a 12-month period for tuition and other “reasonable” expenses, including travel, to maintain his fellowship with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Although Gunn’s employment with KershawHealth is considered temporary as interim CEO, the agreement calls for him to “be covered under Hospital’s Directors and Officers and any other liability insurance applicable to Hospital executives.”

Gunn is maintaining 50 percent ownership in and is chairman of Applied Healthcare Solutions (AHS) LLC of Tulsa, Okla., a privately-held hospital management and consulting company. Because of that relationship, he will continue to receive certain benefits from AHS. Therefore, the agreement states, KershawHealth will not supply him with any other benefits, including but not limited to health and dental insurance coverage, or allow him to participate in retirement, disability, pension and profit sharing plans.

An exhibit attached to the agreement states that Gunn is also an independent contractor with Charter Resource Group (CRG) of Nashville, Tenn. By signing the document, Gunn is agreeing not to provide any executive coaching and consulting services through CRG while serving as KershawHealth’s interim CEO. However, he may “from time to time, engage in conversations or other professional networking activities to maintain a presence sufficient to resume” working with CRG after the termination of his agreement with KershawHealth.

The exhibit also mentions Gunn being the sole member of TJG Enterprises LLC, which owns Whiskey Road Laserwash in Aiken.

Eckford noted in Wednesday’s press release that the board is looking forward to drawing on Gunn’s expertise to help identify KershawHealth’s strengths and create a plan for dealing with declines in patient volumes and revenue.

“We appreciate the breadth of experience Terry has with a wide range of healthcare systems and situations. The fresh insight he brings will be invaluable to everyone,” Eckford said.

In addition to his consulting work through AHS and CRG, Gunn’s experience includes a number of years with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a Fortune 100 company that operates hospitals and surgical centers across the country. Most recently, Gunn served as CEO of Trident Health System in Charleston from 2004 to 2008. During the last two of those years, he also served as president of HCA’s Carolina Market, overseeing four hospitals with a total of 736 inpatient beds, four freestanding surgery centers and 21 outpatient facilities. At the time, Trident had a combined 517 beds across three campuses with nearly 2,500 employees and more than 700 physicians.

Prior to Charleston, Gunn served as CEO at HCA’s Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga. Before joining HCA, he served as CEO at River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Tenn.; and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, Tenn. His career stretches back to 1988 when he began as an administrative resident at Baptist Memorial Health Care System in Memphis, Tenn. Gunn continued with Baptist through 1993, moving up to administrative assistant and assistant administrator. He also worked as an assistant administrator at Donelson Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.

Gunn graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelors of business administration, and then received a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Gunn noted in Wednesday’s press release that “it is most important … that KershawHealth continues to be absolutely committed to delivering the high quality care its patients and the community have come to expect.”

With that “excellent care” as a foundation, he added that it is also crucial for KershawHealth to create a “stable platform” of patient services on which to build.

According to the press release, Gunn plans to spend his first few weeks on the job meeting with board members, employees, physicians and others at KershawHealth to get to know them and develop a feel for the organization. In addition, he will meet with community leaders and others to articulate his confidence in KershawHealth and appreciation for their continued support of its mission and role in the community.

Gunn replaces Donnie Weeks, who served as KershawHealth’s president and CEO for 16 years. Weeks’ contract officially ends Jan. 3, 2014. An exit package signed earlier this year stated that Weeks would make himself available for consultations through June 1, 2014.

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