0

Southern Regional CEO resigns

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Amid concerns over the Southern Regional Medical Center's (SRMC) financial stability, Ed Bonn, its president and CEO, has resigned.

"I don't know how long he has been contemplating this," said Kari Hilyer, public relations liaison for SRMC. "It was a personal decision that Mr. Bonn made, so that is pretty much the story behind his resignation."

Bonn, who has been Southern Regional Health System's chief executive officer since 2000, announced on Friday that he is leaving, effective Dec. 31. Hospital officials said Bonn's decision to leave the hospital is a personal one.

Bonn said he is leaving the hospital to "explore new opportunities and horizons," in a statement released by the hospital on Friday,

"For the past eight years, it's been my great honor and privilege to serve as president and chief executive officer of Southern Regional Health System," Bonn said. "In that time, we've made great progress as an organization. We've seen improvements in patient safety, quality and patient satisfaction.

"We've opened an outstanding Women's Center, an exemplary angioplasty program, a 30-bed LTACH (long-term acute care hospital), a 20-bed acute rehab unit, and are well underway with our ambulatory campus, Spivey Station."

"I don't know what caused him to leave, but I commend him for the job that he has done while he was there," said Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell. "He has done an excellent job since he has been at the helm, amidst very difficult times."

SRMC announced that Clint Matthews, managing director of FTI Healthcare, would take over as SRMC president and CEO after Dec. 31.

Matthews was unavailable for comment on Friday.

"For some time now, however, I have been contemplating what's next in my career," Bonn said. "I'm at a point in my life where I want to explore new and different challenges. Simply put, it's time for something new."

This year's tough economy, in addition to increased challenges regarding indigent care, have severely tested the hospital financially.

This summer, hospital administrators asked the Clayton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) to back a $95 million bond issue to fund capital improvements at the hospital. The BOC never brought the issue to a vote.

Earlier this month, SRMC told the BOC the hospital had $48 million in reserve funds, and that $40.2 million in outstanding bonds was due before the end of the year. Bonn informed the BOC the hospital faced defaulting on those bonds, if it was unable to refinance them using the county's bond rating.

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the BOC denied the request, largely over concerns about the county's own financial footing, in the wake of conflicting reports about its reserve funds, and criticism from state auditors about incomplete information in the county's financial reports to the state.

Another concern about operations has also developed for the hospital. The facility, officials said, lost a total of $7.07 million in 2008. That included a loss of $3.76 million through hospital operations, and $3.31 million through investments. The hospital has said it also spent close to $42 million in indigent care.

Recently, BOC Chairman Bell said he believes the BOC is willing to find an agreeable compromise.

Bell said under Bonn, the hospital has greatly expanded its specialty-care services. He did not know why Bonn resigned, but said he would work closely with Bonn's replacement to help resolve the hospital's financial problems.

"I don't want to see us lose another job in Clayton County, particularly at our hospital," Bell added. "I look forward to working with the new manager, whoever they select."