By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Meet John Kueven, Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s new president
12282022 KUEVEN 4.jpg
John Kueven is the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center president. Before coming to NGMC, Kueven was senior vice president with Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System. - photo by Scott Rogers

John Kueven may be experiencing a little deja vu with his newest job — president of Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville.

Years ago, he spent his residency in hospital administration with North Mississippi Health Services, a system not unlike Northeast Georgia Health System, with a flagship hospital and numerous regional health care providers.

That experience was the first part of a multi-hospital career journey that would eventually lead him and his family to Gainesville.

“We’re excited to have somewhere we’re going to settle,” said the 39-year-old Mississippi native, of his newest position. “This is a long-term commitment for us.”

12282022 KUEVEN 2.jpg
John Kueven is the new Northeast Georgia Medical Center president. Before coming to NGMC, Kueven was senior vice president with Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System. - photo by Scott Rogers

Keuven was appointed to the position in November as one of several staff changes announced by Gainesville-based NGHS. He replaced Louis Smith, who left in October 2019 and now serves as chief operating officer of a health system in Houston.

After Smith’s departure, NGHS shifted focus to creating the chief operating officer role, which Michael Covert filled in October 2019. NGHS opened a national search to fill the president of NGMC Gainesville position in 2022, according to the hospital.

Kueven was serving as a senior vice president with Atlanta-based Wellstar Health System when he began talking with NGHS officials in March about the position.

He had just seen Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS, speaking at a conference about the health system’s COVID-19 pandemic response and was impressed.

Kueven said he remembers thinking “I would like to work for this lady.”

After meeting with top officials, the job “just felt right — the community, the growth, the goals of this organization,” he said. “It all came together and we couldn’t say no to the opportunity.”

In his job, Kueven will oversee NGMC Gainesville operations, as well as New Horizons long-term care centers and the hospital’s mental and behavioral health services provided through Laurelwood.

Kueven, whose career includes stints at Boston Children’s Hospital and Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital near Houston, will monitor the progress of key NGMC projects, such as the hospital’s new, 12-story patient tower, which is being built in two phases through 2030.

“I will be helping to keep that on track,” he said.

Also, he’s waiting to hear about the hospital’s application to become a Level 1 trauma center, which would allow the hospital to participate in new research and help recruit physicians. The decision could come in March.

“We’re optimistic,” Kueven said, “but regardless, we’re going to take it as a learning opportunity and continue to get better.”

Another concern is keeping the hospital workforce at strong levels.

“It’s a national trend right now that we’ve lost more health care providers and workers than we have gained over the last few years,” said Kueven, who also has an associate degree in nursing.

“We have to think creatively about how we (deal) with the changes and demands of the workforce,” he said.

For example, while 12-hour nursing shifts were once the norm, workers now want more flexibility and work-life balance. 

Overall, Kueven, who is married and has an 11-year-old son, said he is looking forward to “the Northeast Georgia way and helping to make an impact and continue to push patient safety, quality, growth and access.

“This community is growing and is passionate about its hospital — the health system, really — and they should be, and I’m excited to be part of that,” he said.