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Southern Regional names Mahan new CEO

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After a five-month search for a permanent CEO, Southern Regional Medical Center announced Monday that Stephen W. Mahan, former director of Muskogee Regional Medical Center in Oklahoma, will become the hospital's new leader at the end of this month.

According to hospital officials, Mahan will officially take over duties from Clint Matthews, the hospital's current CEO, on April 26.

Mahan comes to Southern Regional with 32 years of experience in the hospital industry, according to a Southern Regional press release, and served as CEO of four other hospitals prior to his tenure at Muskogee Regional: Vaughan Regional Medical Center in Selma, Ala.; Ocala Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla.; Memorial Hospital of Tampa/Town & Country Hospital in Tampa, Fla.; and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota in Sarasota, Fla.

Laurie Hoog, director of public relations at Muskogee Regional, said Mahan stepped down as CEO of that hospital in November of last year.

"We are very pleased to be able to attract a hospital executive of Stephen Mahan's proven abilities," said Ron Dodson, chairman of the board of directors at Southern Regional. "Over the past three decades, he has built a very impressive track record as a highly capable manager and leader, and has obviously had a positive impact on the institutions he has served.

"The board," Dodson said, "is confident that Stephen's skill set and leadership style will be a good fit for the particular challenges we face at Southern Regional."

Matthews took over as CEO of Southern Regional in December 2008 immediately after the resignation of former CEO, Ed Bonn, who stepped down following controversy surrounding the hospital's financial stability. In December of 2008, the Clayton County government helped the hospital refinance $40.2 million in outstanding bonds.

During Mahan's three years as CEO of Muskogee Regional, according to Southern Regional officials, he helped significantly reduce the hospital's debt. Under Mahan's leadership, Muskogee Regional implemented an interventional cardiology program, started a customer satisfaction program, and increased the hospital's revenue by 20 percent, Southern Regional officials said.

"That's something every hospital wishes can be done, but we're hoping that he can do that here," Dodson said. According to Dodson, Matthews' 18-month contract to serve as CEO officially ended April 7. He said Matthews will continue to serve during Mahan's transition.

Mahan will be responsible for replacing the hospital's current administrative team, which was brought in by FTI Healthcare, following Southern Regional's financial troubles, according to Dodson. He said that over the next several months, Mahan will replace John Schibler, the hospital's current chief financial officer; Cathy Kenney, chief nursing officer; and Therese Sucher, chief operating officer.

Mahan could not be reached for comment on Monday, but issued a press statement through Southern Regional. "I am deeply honored by this appointment," he said in the statement. "I look forward to taking on this new challenge and working with the doctors, nurses, and staff at Southern Regional to meet the health-care needs of the Southern Crescent."

Dodson said Mahan's "number one priority" will be continuing the hospital's march toward approval to serve heart-surgery patients. In February, the hospital filed for a certificate of need with the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) for open-heart surgery.

If no other hospitals appeal Southern Regional's application to the DCH, the hospital could receive approval to do open-heart surgery by the end of May, Dodson said.