Longtime administrator Carol H. Burrell was named president and CEO of the Northeast Georgia Health System today.
Burrell, the executive vice president and chief operating officer, had served as interim CEO since Nov. 8 , when Jim Gardner stepped down from the post.
"I really feel privileged, more than anything, when I think of all the great leaders who have served in this organization," Burrell said. "To be a small part of that future going forward, that legacy, is really exciting."
Burrell, who turned 55 today, has been with the health system for 12 years, starting as executive director for physician services.
"Professionally, Carol's diverse career reflects her innate ability and business acumen in developing, restructuring and advancing a wide range of health care divisions," said Mary Lynn Coyle, chairwoman of the health system's board. "On a personal level, her integrity, grace and empathy personify the values that are the cornerstone of our organization."
Burrell has been at the forefront of many of the health system's key accomplishments over the past 10 years, some of which included planning and executing a $550 million major capital expansion plan for facilities, operations and information technology, Coyle said.
"I've had the opportunity to work with Carol for several years through her role as chief operating officer and, more recently, as interim CEO, and I appreciate how well she collaborates with physicians," said Dr. Priscilla Strom, surgeon with the Longstreet Clinic and member of the search committee.
"She is trustworthy, has a reputation for open, honest dialogue and has proven herself to be a very capable leader."
One particular focus for Burrell is following through on building a hospital on a 119-acre campus off Thompson Mill Road in South Hall.
"There is a lot of activity with that right now. It obviously will be a major focus for us," Burrell said.
Also, the health system is looking to move its New Horizons West nursing home to the Lanier Park campus on White Sulphur Road.
"That has received board approval and we're putting those plans together now," Burrell said. "We anticipate that happening in about 18 months."
And overall, hospital officials will be "preparing for health care reform, whatever that looks like," she said. "We know we need to continue to focus on quality and being efficient."
Burrell, who is married and has two grown children, grew up near Winder and completed her undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern College and Emory University Hospital.
She started her career as a medical technologist in the late 1970s, before returning to school to complete her master's degree in health care administration at Central Michigan University.
Burrell served as a vice president at St. Vincent's Health System in Jacksonville, Fla., before being recruited to the health system in 1999 to work with the primary care network. She was promoted to executive vice president and COO in 2004.
In naming a new CEO, the executive committee of the health system's board appointed a search committee led by Coyle.
The search became "a very deliberate, rigorous process that was developed to be inclusive and transparent," she said.
The committee developed 11 focus groups with board members, physicians, employees, senior management and community leaders to get input on the qualities and characteristics they believed the CEO must have.
With support from the Hay Group, a global management consulting firm, the search committee used the feedback to develop a CEO role profile.
"After completing the focus groups and studying the role profile that was developed, it became apparent that Carol embodies the must-have personality characteristics and leadership skills that were identified," Coyle said.
Doug Carter, search committee member and chairman of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Board, praised Burrell "as not only a well-respected leader in the health care community, but has also earned the respect of civic leaders through her involvement in community life."
Burrell "has a servant's heart and a contagious sense of humor that helps her engage and relate to others at all levels of the organization and in the community," Carter added.
She also has been part of the Gainesville Rotary Club, past chairwoman of the Northeast Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross and past chairwoman of Hall County's United Way.
Burrell serves on the board of directors of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Also, she and her husband, Steve, are members of Lakewood Baptist Church, where she has served on the Personnel Committee.