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These leaders, boards help make Northeast Georgia Health System decisions
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President and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System Carol Burrell speaks during a VIP Sneak Peek Program at Northeast Georgia Health System Lumpkin in Dahlonega on Thursday, July 11, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele
About this story

Hospitals across the state have been required to make their financial information public as part of a new state law aimed at providing transparency in health care. Over the past few weeks, The Times has been examining these documents from the Northeast Georgia Health System and meeting with key hospital leaders to gain understanding about the data, which is available at nghs.com/hospital-transparency. Here's a closer look at the finances of the health system. Here, The Times presents a piece complementing that coverage and designed to give a clear picture of who some of the decision makers are at the health system.

Carol Burrell is the president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System and has been since 2011. She and other administrators are listed online at nghs.com/administration

State law requires nonprofit hospitals to disclose compensation of their top executives. Compensation for Burrell, is $1.2 million. Her pay is similar to other health care executives in the state who lead similarly sized organizations. 

The CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System based in Albany, for example, made $1.6 million. The CEO of Navicent Health, based in Macon, made about $1.5 million.

A committee of the Northeast Georgia Health System board works with a consulting firm to “set the CEO salary in a competitive manner,” board chairman RK Whitehead said. 

Northeast Georgia Health System’s boards

Several volunteers act as stewards of the Gainesville-based $2.1 billion health system by serving on boards. Here’s what the top three boards do and who’s currently serving on them. 

Hospital Authority of Hall County & City of Gainesville

What: The authority has governed the hospital since 1951, when the facility opened as the Hall County Hospital. The hospital became NGMC in 1976, and the authority signed a 40-year lease with the hospital in 1986, according to historical information on the NGHS website. As the hospital grew, it restructured to include other boards and involve more people in decision-making. NGMC Gainesville is leased from the authority for $1 a year.

The Authority is a way for the community to hold its hospital accountable, Chairman Rich White said.

“The Authority’s purpose is to oversee the lease agreement by ensuring NGMC fulfills its obligations under the lease agreement in the community’s best interest to maintain and expand the facility appropriately, assuring access to services as needed, providing high-quality care, accommodating care for those who can’t afford it, offering free health education and more,” White said. “The Authority can also issue bonds or other financing for the hospital as needed.” Meetings of the authority are open to the public and listed online at nghs.com/board-meetings.

Who: The authority includes nine community members who serve three-year terms. Terms are staggered so three seats are up for a vote each year. The Hall County Board of Commissioners nominates three people for each open seat, and the authority members elect the people who will join.

Members:

  • Rich White, Chair

  • Jack Keener, Vice Chair

  • Benny Bagwell

  • Steve Blair

  • Preston Bowen

  • Ben Hawkins, DMD

  • Brenda Perry

  • Spence Price

  • Martha Randolph

Northeast Georgia Health System board

What: “The board is the long-term steward of the organization. Administration and staff can come and go, but the board is sort of that perpetual, continuous string that makes sure the organization is going in the direction that is needed to provide health care to all the citizens of the service area,” chair RK Whitehead said.

The board has signed off on several major decisions for the health system, including starting a graduate medical education program, opening NGMC Braselton and switching to the record system Epic.

Who: The board must have between seven and 15 members. It includes some Hospital Authority members and medical staff. Members serve three-year terms, although Hospital Authority representatives serve for one year.

The governance committee, a subcommittee of the board, can nominate board members. Many members come from the advisory board, a non-voting group of 39 members that hears updates from the health system and attends programs such as facility tours. 

Members:

  • RK Whitehead, Chair

  • Benny Bagwell, Vice Chair

  • Mohak Davé, MD

  • Denise Deal 

  • Clifton Hastings, MD

  • Ben Hawkins, DMD

  • David Hughs

  • Jack Keener

  • Paul Maney

  • John Nix

  • Spence Price

  • LeTrell Simpson

  • Jane Smoot

  • Priscilla Strom, MD

  • Jackie Wallace

Northeast Georgia Medical Center board

What: “The NGMC board governs the management, policies, finances and property of NGMC Gainesville and NGMC Braselton, with high-level oversight from the NGHS board. The NGMC board meets every other month with hospital leaders to review care quality, performance, track areas of improvement and learn about new proposed strategies,” chairman John Nix said. “Our role as board members is to ask insightful questions, share experience from our respective careers (and) industries and ensure NGMC is making the best decisions for the community it serves.” Its meetings are open to the public.

Who: It must have between five and 15 members. The board is a mix of community members, Hospital Authority members and medical staff. Members are nominated and voted on by the health system board. Each term varies from one year to three years depending on the type of member.  Members may be reappointed, but no one can serve more than 12 consecutive years.

Members:

  • John Nix, Chair 

  • Phillippa Lewis Moss, Vice Chair 

  • Steve Blair

  • Lua Blankenship

  • Preston Bowen

  • DJ Campbell, MD

  • Eugene Cindea, MD

  • Holt Harrison, MD

  • Kaye Ann Herth, PhD

  • Deborah Mack

  • Semuel Maysonet

  • Greg Ours

  • Brenda Perry

  • Tim Scully, MD

  • Alex Wayne

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