Members of the board of directors of Memorial University Medical Center met Thursday to consider the transition of leadership following the announcement of CEO Maggie Gill’s resignation. “We were surprised when she told us she’s leaving and we wanted her to stay,” Harry Haslam, the chairman of the board of directors told reporters. Haslam said that after Gill took over as CEO in 2011, she helped rebuild the hospital’s finances from a huge deficit but that conditions beyond their control later contributed to Memorial’s current money issues, He said those conditions included the state of Georgia not expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, which in turn lowered the hospital’s payments in the past few years. Other issues include the facility’s responsibility to treat the indigent and to serve as the area’s major trauma center, both of which costs the facility millions per year without full reimbursement.
Haslam gave no reason for Gill’s resignation or where she is going. He said she has agreed to stay on for a transition period and the board voted on a separation package but Haslam said the amount of money in that agreement is “private.”
Last year, Gill was instrumental in negotiating a merger deal with Novant, a North Carolina medical provider that promised to infuse tens of millions of dollars into the coffers of Memorial. Gill said at the time that Memorial was “struggling” to provide indigent care services. However, the deal with Novant later fell through and Gill said it was due to issues raised by the Chatham County Hospital Authority. The Authority countered that it holds a lease on Memorial’s land, building and equipment, and that it is responsible for making sure that the low income continue to be served by Memorial along with Neonatal services. Chatham County has also issued $160 million in bonds on Memorial’s behalf which according to County Chair Al Scott has provided them with some oversight as well. The Hospital Authority has called for an independent audit of Memorial’s funds amid word that a projected deficit for 2016 (estimated at about $24 million dollars) may be higher than predicted. Results of that audit are expected to be made known by the end of the month.
Another board member, Susan Willetts who is part of an ad hoc committee which will choose Gill’s successor says they “hope to find a replacement as soon as possible.” Willetts says the community has been through uncertainty already in terms of the Novant merger and “this brings more uncertainty so we want to find someone as soon as we can.” Willetts did not rule out the possibility of a management company providing leadership of the facility during an interim period.