Hospital CEO Eldridge steps down

Published 11:05 pm Monday, June 1, 2009

In what Investor Gil McKenzie calls a “mutual agreement” Eldridge is no longer the hospital CEO as of Monday.

“We have mutually agreed to not renew his employment agreement,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said the two met for an annual review Friday and again Monday, where the decision was made. It was discussed before Friday in hospital board meetings with doctor owners, but McKenzie said it was not a decision the board voted to make.

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“They were aware of it,” McKenzie said. “But it was an informative discussion at the board level.”

In fact, the decision came with some level of surprise to Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, who represents the city of Troy on the board.

“In my opinion, Rusty’s done a good job,” Lunsford said. “He took a situation where the hospital had been losing millions of dollars for at least two years under (former hospital owner) Attentis. Rusty had done a good job with helping recruit additional doctors in the community, the hospital is turning around and there were two to three months they actually made a profit.”

Lunsford said he hopes the decision is one that will benefit both Eldridge and the hospital in the long run.

“I know Rusty, in my opinion, is a good administrator,” Lunsford said. “I just have to trust he and Gil came to an understanding that’s best for the hospital and Rusty personally.”

Eldridge was employed through Gilliard Health Services, McKenzie’s company, and the annual review is procedure.

“It’s a one-year agreement, and we’ve mutually agreed not to renew,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said Eldridge’s departure comes after a significant hospital turn around.

“Sort of the reason is we’ve pretty much got the hospital turned around,” McKenzie said. “We’ve come a long way in the past year. That’s what Rusty’s good at. He’s pretty much decided he wants to move on.

“So we’re going to pass the baton to a new CEO.”

Starting today, McKenzie will step in as that new CEO, on an interim basis until the position is filled.

“We’ll remain in that capacity until we get a permanent replacement,” McKenzie said. “I don’t know how long that will take. It may take a month, may take six months.”

McKenzie, who is one of the hospital owners, said there is no rush to find a new replacement.

“We want to make sure we get the right person for the job, so I’ll stay there until we get a permanent replacement,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said patients and staff of the hospital should not anticipate changes in how the company is run.

Eldridge could not be reached for comment.