Liberty Regional Medical Center has hired a new chief executive officer to run the hospital, four months after longtime CEO H. Scott Kroell retired.
Liberty County Hospital Authority Chairman James Rogers said Michael Hester from Richmond Hill is the new CEO.
“I am thrilled and excited to be joining Liberty Regional Medical Center,” Hester said during a phone interview Tuesday. “And I’m actually very honored by the confidence of the board and the staff of placing me to be the leader and the steward of the hospital.”
Hester is currently the CEO of Optim Medical Center – Tattnall in Reidsville.
The Hospital Authority board voted on his hiring at its Aug. 18 meeting after an executive session.
Rogers said the authority received 51 applicants for the position, which was why it took so long to find the next hospital CEO.
“We wanted to make sure we got somebody that was the right fit,” Rogers said of the criteria what criteria the authority board was considering during a phone interview Monday.
“For me, I wanted someone who had both experience working with county authorities such as ours and working in a critical-access environment and had worked in the for-profit sector. And he has all those in his past experience.”
In the past, Hester has worked for both not-for-profit and for-profit hospitals in a few roles, including chief financial officer and chief operations officer.
He started working at Optim Healthcare in Savannah in April 2012 as a CFO, and then worked as CFO at Liberty Regional in July 2014, according to his resume.
Hester took over as CEO of Optim Medical Center in Reidsville in December after that position became available, according to his resume and Rogers.
During his brief time at LRMC as the CFO, Hester said, he “got to learn a lot. And really very excited. So I know the potential of the community and I know the potential of that hospital. And I’ll tell you what, I’m impressed by the board members, really the community leaders that I’ve met there.”
What impressed Rogers was Hester’s vast experience.
“The jobs he’s done in the past are all kind of led up to running a hospital like ours,” Rogers said.
When Kroell was CEO, his contract, which was in effect from April 2012 through April 2015, stipulated that his salary was $187,500, with raises possible subject to annual review. A couple of weeks after retiring from the hospital, he was hired as health-sciences dean at Savannah Technical College, where his salary is $80,000.
Hester won’t go straight to work at LRMC because he first has to find a replacement for his current position at Optim, according to Rogers.
“In the interim process, I’ll still be actively engaged in one form or another with the leaders and staff and physicians at Liberty,” Hester said.
Hester said he is looking forward to working with the community and letting residents know they are important to him.
“Somebody that they can feel like he’s a friend and a partner in the community,” he said.