Memorial Health’s senior vice president for the children’s hospital will leave next month to become chief executive officer for a Texas health care provider as Memorial University Medical Center faces financial uncertainty, slowing work on a new free-standing children’s hospital.
William “Bill” Lee “has resigned his position at Memorial Health in order to join the Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas as its chief executive officer,” Memorial officials said in a statement Wednesday. “This is an excellent career opportunity for Bill, and we wish him much success in his new role.
“He has been a passionate advocate for our children’s hospital and for children’s healthcare in our region, and we will miss his leadership at Memorial,” the statement said. “We are moving forward with our plans and fundraising efforts for a new freestanding children’s hospital.”
Lee, who joined Memorial’s senior staff in 2010 for the children’s hospital post, was subsequently named chief strategy officer in addition to overseeing pediatric services, Memorial Health Partners, regional development and physician growth.
Lee has more than 15 years of experience in hospital management, including work at nonprofit pediatric teaching facilities.
His decision to leave is the latest loss of senior management as Memorial Health board members work with the Chatham County Hospital Authority to find a new strategic partner or altered business model to address ongoing financial challenges.
Maggie Gill, president/CEO for the nonprofit since 2011, decided in February to leave the post “to pursue other professional opportunities.” Mary Chatman, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer, left earlier this month.
Memorial opened its children’s hospital in 1992 and provided care for more than 70,000 patient visits last year.
Under Gill, Memorial mapped out expansion of the Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah, breaking ground in April to provide the region’s only standalone children’s hospital. Work has slowed after a proposed shared partnership agreement with North Carolina-based Novant Health Inc. fell through last year.
Memorial has raised more than $18 million of their $20 million committment for the $35-million project. As part of the agreement, Novant was expected to provide the additional $15 million for the project.
New board chair J. Curtis Lewis III said last week Memorial’s mission remains and expressed optimism about the hospital’s future.
Also last week, Memorial officials announced the hiring of Kerry Watson, a veteran of 20 years in hospital management, as interim CEO who will begin the week of April 17.
Gill has remained on board to assist in the transition, giving officials 120 days from her resignation in early February.
Chatham County Chairman Al Scott has said he thinks “some restructuring” at the hospital is overdue, but said that Memorial is safe here “in some sort of form or fashion.”
Meanwhile, an independent audit of Memorial’s finances ordered by the county commission on behalf of the hospital authority apparently is nearing completion and has not been made public.