Stephen Pennington is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities as the new CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center. He follows former CEO Paul Theriot, who accepted a position in another Community Health System, or CHS, hospital. CHS owns East Georgia Regional.
Pennington is no stranger to Statesboro or East Georgia. For the past few years, he has served as the vice president of operations for CHSPSC, LLC, which is the parent company of EGRMC. In this position, he provided management guidance to 15 CHS affiliated acute-care hospitals in six states, including East Georgia.
Since CHS acquired the Statesboro hospital from Health Management Associates in 2014, EGRMC has struggled in many areas, including patient satisfaction scores and saw the Leapfrog hospital safety grade dip to unacceptable levels. Physician and staff retention has also become a major issue.
Pennington is acutely aware of the challenges, but he prefers to see them as opportunities for improvement. Two areas that he is urgently focused on is general surgery and oncology and he is aggressively working to recruit physicians in those fields.
Also, Pennington said is aware of concerns in our community with hospital costs, which is another high priority item for him. His focus is not just correcting problems, but leading EGRMC into becoming one of the best community hospitals in the country, he said.
“For over 80 years, East Georgia Regional Medical Center has strived to meet the needs of this community and continues to do so today with a full complement of services not usually found in a hospital of its size,” Pennington said. “We are able to continue to meet this need because of the tremendous support from the community, and through the commitment and dedication of our entire physician and caregiver team. I very much look forward to supporting the entire team to enhance the level of service and access to healthcare resources across southeast Georgia.”
Pennington brings with him more than just lip service. He has an impressive record of successes in helping hospitals and their teams reach and exceed their potential. He has been a CEO or vice president in the health care industry for more than 20 years. While serving as CEO at hospitals throughout the southeast, Pennington successfully coordinated quality and clinical resources to achieve multiple clinical accreditations; helped grow local access to services including cardiovascular, neuroscience, oncology and orthopedics; and supported the development and implementation of the organizations’ strategic plans.
“Stephen’s substantial experience and demonstrated leadership in healthcare are among the many reasons he is the right person to lead our hospital,” said Statesboro attorney Kenny Stone, who is chairman of the board of trustees at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. “He is committed to the delivery of safe, quality healthcare to the people of this community and will work with our East Georgia Regional team to further expand the services available at our hospital.”
“Stephen Pennington is one of the best health care executives I have had the pleasure to work with, and as the new CEO of East Georgia Regional, he will lead this hospital to greater heights,” said Keith Granger, CHSPSC, LLC regional president. “In addition to his remarkable leadership skills, Stephen demonstrates an admirable commitment and passion in realizing EGRMC’s founding mission. His tenure will be marked by even greater things for this organization and our community.”
Pennington said he understands the power of walking gently through a crowd and listening. He proudly wears his name tag no matter where he goes in the hospital or in the community. He wants people to get to know him and share with him their vision for what EGRMC could be. To me, he is approachable and compassionate about the mission he has accepted.
The decision to place such a dynamic leader as Pennington in our community to me sends several strong messages from CHS. They understand the vast opportunities for improvement at our hospital. They know that EGRMC should be and can be a crown jewel for CHS. They are willing to do whatever it takes to right the ship and regain market share.
Pennington, I believe, is the perfect choice for CHS.
He has the ability, knowledge, experience and trust of CHS’s leadership to steer East Georgia in a remarkable new direction. After sitting down with him for two hours, firing hard questions on and off the record to him, I was encouraged and impressed. Not once did he give me talking points.
Pennington acknowledged the challenges, faced them head on and immediately offered a way forward for each issue we addressed. The employees, physicians and community leaders I have spoken with since meeting him enthusiastically agree and are also equally impressed.
Pennington holds a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration from the University of Alabama, a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Tennessee, and is a recent graduate of the Nashville Healthcare Fellows Class of 2019.
Pennington is relocating to Statesboro with his wife Sheri, son Grayson and daughter Kate. Grayson will transfer to Georgia Southern this fall.