Private Grady Board Selects Four CEO Finalists


(APN) ATLANTA — After many weeks of searching, the new, privatized Grady board, the Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation (GMHC), announced Monday, July 07, 2008, four finalists to possibly take over as CEO at Grady Memorial Hospital.

A.D. “Pete” Correll, Chairman of the GMHC, said Monday the GMHC is happy with the quality of the four finalists and noted Atlantans should be proud Grady could draw such experienced executives, even while the hospital is facing financial turmoil.

The finalists include Gregory H. Burfitt, who was until December 2007 the President and CEO of the Centura Health System in Englewood, Colorado; and James R. Burkhart, the current President and Administrator of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which is a Level I trauma center and teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Florida.

Other finalists include Dr. Michael Keith Butler, Interim CEO of the Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division; and Michael A. Young, President and CEO of the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York.

State Rep. Pam Stephenson, Grady’s interim CEO, is not among the finalists as some speculated she might. She faced criticism for serving as CEO, GMHC Vice Chair, and Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority (FDHA) Chair simultaneously.

Former Grady CEO Otis Story, fired by the FDHA in January, filed a lawsuit against Stephenson in April in Fulton County Superior Court alleging Stephenson engineered his dismissal so she could take the CEO post.

Although Stephenson expressed publicly her interest in staying on as permanent CEO, it was never clear if she formally applied for the job. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper reported today, however, that officials said she did apply for the job.

Correll said Monday he appreciates Stephenson’s service but that Grady needs an executive with more experience.

The GMHC search committee spent weeks examining the resumes of 30 candidates from around the United States with a goal of finding proven executives who have worked in a number of hospitals with a track record of turning struggling hospitals around.

Members of the Committee interviewed 10 candidates in person before narrowing it down to four, according to Correll.

Over the next two weeks, each candidate will be returning to Atlanta to meet with other GMHC Members, Grady doctors and staff, and members of the community.

The search committee will make their final choice after that time and make a recommendation to the GMHC.

The GMHC will hold a special call meeting where they may decide to vote up or down the Committee’s recommendation or vote on another candidate out of the four.

While Correll told Atlanta Progressive News it might only be necessary to approve the CEO by majority vote, he hopes to have unanimous approval.

Once the GMHC picks a candidate, Correll told APN he hopes the new CEO can take over September 01, 2008, although he cautioned that target date could change.

The door to the Grady CEO office has been a revolving one in recent years, with executives typically leaving after about a year, folding under public scrutiny which has only become worse over the last decade as Grady continues its slide.

The new CEO will have to address the shrinking population of insured patients, how to secure more money from local governments and the State, as well as equipment painfully out-of-date.

The following is a closer look at each of the four candidates based on their resumes presented to the public Monday, a copy of which were obtained by Atlanta Progressive News. The resumes of each candidate should be available online at for public inspection in the coming days, Correll said.


Mr. Burfitt has 30 years of management experience at seven different hospitals, six of which are in the Southeastern US.M

He has two Georgia connections. Burfitt’s first executive experience came as administrator and CEO of Redmond Park Hospital in Rome, Georgia, from 1978 to 1983, where he helped improve performance and completed three major construction projects.

Burfitt’s other Georgia connection comes from Atlanta, where he served as Senior Vice President of Operations in the Southern States Region of Tenet Health System from 1999 to 2004.

During this time, Burfitt steered the six-state, 21 acute care hospitals network from last place performance to first in many areas.

Burfitt’s most recent managing gig came as President and CEO of Centura Health in Englewood, Colorado, which consists of 12 acute care hospitals, eight senior service facilities, and seven home care and hospice facilities.

From 2005 to December 2007, Burfitt helped improve quality, public perception, market share, and physician, employee, and patient satisfaction, according to his resume.


Burkhart is currently in charge of a hospital closely resembling Grady: Shands Jacksonville Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida. Like Grady, Shands is a Level I trauma center and a teaching hospital, in this case affiliated with the University of Florida.

Shands has 696 beds, a $500 million annual budget, and—like Grady now does—has a nonprofit management structure. By comparison, Grady has 950 beds and a $750 million annual budget.

Since Burkhart’s tenure began in 2003, Shands has experienced a number of improvements. Between Fiscal Years 2002 and 2007, working capital improved 182 percent, the debt to capital ratio fell from 112 percent to 29 percent, and the total margin grew from $2.4 million to $17.9 million.

Burkhart also helped recruit 50 new physicians, which led to increased clinic visits and a 29 percent reduction in leave-without-being-seen patients. Employee turnover also went from 32 percent to 20 percent over a two-year period.

From Fiscal Years 2005 to fiscal year 2008, Shands jumped 80 percent in national ranking in patient satisfaction, going from the 41st percentile to the 74th percentile.


Mr. Butler currently serves as Interim CEO of the Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division, a network of seven hospitals with 1,556 licensed beds.

Before taking this position in July 2007, Butler served as the Chief Medical Officer of the same division starting in 1999.

While improving the hospital’s work on asthma, cancer screening, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and HIV, Butler also highlighted his work during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans which included expanding the telemedicine network to minimize geographical barriers to continued care.

From 1997 to 2001, Butler served as CEO of the South Louisiana Medical Associates and Medical Director of the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center.

During this time, Butler helped stabilize employee and physician turnover and fully fund pension benefits while slashing expenses by $1 million and enhancing revenue by $1.2 million per year.


Young looks hungry for a challenge. His “career objective” on his resume states that he is “searching for an opportunity to grow and develop a nationally recognized and competitive health system.”

During his three and a half years as president and CEO of Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, Young has led a quick turnaround.

Erie experienced a 36-month net revenue growth of $100 million or 39 percent, grew cash to 115 days from zero days or $165 million in three years, and produced a first positive bottom line in the hospital’s 100-year history in 2006.

Young also helped improve service delivery. Erie reduced emergency room delays from 80 percent in 2005 to just 7 percent in 2007, increased emergency room volumes by 17 percent over three years, and increased admissions 16 percent in a declining market, all of which led to an increase in market share from 2005 to 2007.

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at

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