MUSC Health Orangeburg is seeking a new president and chief executive officer to help oversee the Orangeburg hospital.

Former Regional Medical Center President and CEO David Southerland did not transition to the Medical University of South Carolina when the two institutes officially became one March 1.

“David Southerland did not transition to MUSC Health,” MUSC Public Affairs, Media Relations and Presidential Communications Director Heather Woolwine said in a prepared statement. “Out of respect for individuals’ privacy, MUSC Health does not comment further on individual employment situations.”

Southerland came to the hospital in May 3, 2021 under a three-year contract earning $350,000 annually.

Southerland’s severance included a six-month base salary at the time of termination, becoming applicable if the hospital terminated the agreement without cause.

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If Southerland becomes employed within the six-month severance period, the monthly severance payments would stop, according to the original contract.

Dr. David Zaas, who currently serves as the CEO of the MUSC Health Charleston Division, is serving as the interim president and CEO of the Orangeburg hospital until a new permanent president and CEO is named.

“I will hire a local CEO who is here five days a week, who is part of the community, who really can help us drive the safety, the quality, the service excellence, all of those things,” Zaas said. “The search process is underway and hopefully will be named in a few weeks. It is going really well.”

The national search has attracted 15 applicants.

“We have some great candidates and a lot of interest, which has really been great to see,” he said. “We have been interviewing candidates almost since before March 1.”

“We have great candidates from as far as California, Missouri, up into the Northeast as well as in South Carolina,” Zaas said. “We are down to sort of three finalists, then hopefully we will make a decision. We are really excited.”

Zaas declined releasing the names of the finalists.

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“It is still confidential with these candidates. Because of their current roles, it is really important for the candidates,” Zaas said.

Zaas said while the Orangeburg hospital will have a new president and CEO under the MUSC Health structure, when hired, the new MUSC Health Orangeburg CEO will continue to report to Zaas and the Charleston office. Orangeburg is a part of MUSC Health and the Charleston Division.

“I will always be from the regulatory perspective the CEO of this campus because it is a part of Charleston,” Zaas said.

This means that Zaas will ultimately be responsible  for the Orangeburg campus, hospital, quality and finances.

“We look at our performance usually in pillars,” Zaas said. “Our safety, our quality, our service, our people, obviously, and our finances. So every component of the organization.”

“We have over the last few weeks really tried to restructure the management team here to really not only ensure that we have people positioned for success to help this organization, but also to really ensure that we integrate well with MUSC and the ability to bring expertise and resources here. Even knowledge from our system counterparts from our Charleston division team, I think, has already been a huge benefit to this organization.”

They have undergone a lot of change in the last month and they have adapted to it really, really well,” Zaas said.

In addition to Southerland, former Chief Financial Officer Dennis Pettigrew also did not transition to MUSC.

Woolwine said Pettigrew “was in an interim position and that his contract ended with the recent transition to MUSC Health.”

Kellie Suggs is now serving as the hospital’s CFO.

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Suggs arrived at MUSC Health in August 2007, serving as the digestive disease service line finance officer until 2010. She then became the director of business operations at the MUSC Children’s Hospital until July 2017, when she became the director of business operations in the hospital’s nursing department.

Suggs then became CFO of MUSC Health in October 2019.

When asked if other Orangeburg hospital management will be changed, he said, “not to my knowledge.”

Zaas joined MUSC in April 2020 as the chief executive officer for the Charleston Division and the chief clinical officer for MUSC Health.

In addition, he is a professor at the MUSC School of Medicine with a clinical practice in pulmonary medicine and lung transplantation at MUSC.

Prior to coming to MUSC in Charleston, Zaas was president of Duke Raleigh Hospital from 2014-20.

Zaas is a graduate of Yale University in 1994. He completed his medical degree at Northwestern University in 1998 and subsequently did his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

According to the MUSC Health Orangeburg website, other individuals on the hospital’s current leadership team that have stayed through the MUSC transition include:

  • Vice President of Operations Sabrina N. Robinson. Robinson, who came to the hospital in February 2020, has over 20 years of expertise related to the development and management of hospital practices.
  • Vice President, Support Services Chief Information Officer Michelle Edwards. Edwards arrived at the hospital in September 2019 as the hospital’s new chief information officer.

Edwards has 20-plus years of experience to focus on implementing technology to enhance clinical care, business operations and consumer experiences aligned with RMC’s strategic goals.

  • Chief Medical Officer, Dr. George E. Castro. Castro is a cardiologist with over 42 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from the New York Medical College in 1980. He practices at the Carolina Heart Center on Cook Road.
  • Vice President, Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer Karrie Powell. Powell arrived at the hospital in March 2021 as the chief nursing officer.

Powell came to Orangeburg from Summerville, where she served as chief nursing officer for Summerville Medical Center, a 124-bed acute-care hospital.

  • Executive Director of Ambulatory Services Echo McAlhany arrived at the hospital in October 2008 and served in the hospital for about 10 years before becoming the director of population health and network development at the South Carolina Medical Association Members Insurance Trust in April 2019.

She came back to the Orangeburg hospital in March 2022 as the director of physician services and then became the director of ambulatory services upon the transition to MUSC Health Orangeburg.

  • Senior Director of Quality Management and Medical Staff Tonya Pratt. Pratt arrived at the hospital in July 2011and served as the associate director medical staff services and quality management for about 11 years before her current position. She received her master of science in nursing from Charleston Southern University.

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