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Hospital officials determining what they want in a CEO
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Northeast Georgia Health System officials began work last week to develop a checklist of traits they're looking for in a new CEO.

In focus groups with board members, employees and community leaders, the hospital's executive committee sought feedback as the first step in the search process.

"We feel their input is vital to developing the characteristics which will be used to determine who will ultimately be the permanent president and CEO of the hospital," said Doug Carter, chairman of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Board.

Jim Gardner resigned as president and CEO in November after more than five years in the position, citing professional and personal reasons, including a desire to spend more time with family. Carol Burrell, former vice president and chief operating officer, is serving as interim CEO.

Mary Lynn Coyle, chairwoman of the Northeast Georgia Health System Board, said a specific timeline for the search process has not been outlined.

Focus groups will be held through next week. Once that process is complete, the feedback will be used to create a detailed leadership profile, which should be drafted by late March. Candidates have not yet been identified, Coyle said.

"It's a deliberate, thoughtful process and we're going to take the time that's required to make a good decision," she said.

Carter, who led one of the sessions last week, said he's been very pleased with the feedback, which he thinks will not only help the selection committee in the CEO search but in planning for long-term goals at the hospital.

Carter said the next CEO must be a visionary leader who recognizes the hospital's exponential growth in North Georgia and helps lead the organization in a shifting medical environment.

"Health care is changing significantly and many of the relationships will be defined by government and defined by what comes out of Washington," he said.

"So we as an organization have got to learn to work with all aspects of our local community to make sure at the end of the day we are providing quality health care."