Grimes leaving TRMC

Published 12:34 pm Monday, March 28, 2016

CEO Teresa Grimes is resigning after six years at the helm of Troy Regional Medical Center.

“This is truly bittersweet,” Grimes said on Thursday, less than 24 hours after notifying the hospital’s board. “We often use that word, and I don’t think I really knew what that meant until now. This is both bitter and sweet.”

Grimes will be returning “home,” where she will be CEO of the Washington County Hospital and Nursing Home. The decision is driven in large part by her desire to help care for her mother and her husband’s parents, all of whom live in Washington County. “I believe God does all this well and in His time,” she said. “I am leaving a part of my heart in Troy, as it has become home to me and I have developed deep friendships. However, I feel it is time to transition home to care for my mother and Neal’s parents.”

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While the decision to move home to help care for family has brought her peace, Grimes said making the decision to leave a community and a hospital she considers “home” is more difficult.

“I love this place, and this place is home,” she said as tears welled in her eyes. “It is tough to leave family and friends, but I owe it to my mama and my in-laws.”

Grimes came to TRMC in December 2009 from Jackson, Alabama. At the time, TRMC was owned by a group of Troy physicians in partnership with Gil McKenzie. In January 2010, the City of Troy bought the hospital, putting it under the management of a health care authority board. Since then, Grimes’ has lead initiatives to improve quality, community involvement, financial stability and organizational structure and efficiency.

TRMC has received Joint Commission accreditation and national accolades for its quality of care, developed a clinical affiliation with Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan, undergone a facility facelift, and made significant improvements in financial stability.

“I think we’ve accomplished more than we could envision accomplishing, but I don’t think we’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish,” Grimes said. “But you never get to the end of the journey … and this staff, these people are hardwired. They’ve got the tools and equipment they need to continue this commitment and this culture.”

Dr. Paul Dulaney, who has served as chief of staff twice under Grimes’ tenure, said her departure is a sad day. “I can understand some of the reasons she’s leaving, but it leaves a void in our management right now,” he said. “There has been a lot of progress made under Teresa, much of it the public is not aware of.”

For example, he said, TRMC maintained its Blue Cross Blue Shield Tier 1 status, while more than a dozen other hospitals in the state dropped to Tier 2. “That’s a big deal for patients who have co-pays, and maintaining it is not an easy task,” he said.

And from the physicians’ perspective, Grimes has brought transparency in administration, which increases the trust both internally and in the community. “There’s been a lot of work to get the hospital to where it is now, and the main focus will be on keeping the momentum going,” he said.

Brenda Dubose, a board member at the hospital, said she was shocked by Grimes’ resignation. “She has been a great asset to the community and to the hospital,” Dubose said.

More important, Grimes has put the hospital on the right path. “She’s made some major milestones,” Dubose said. “The community has embraced the hospital and it’s a more trusting environment, a more family friend environment for the community … she’s been a great administrator and I have immense respect for her.”

Staff members who work closely with Grimes were shocked as she met with them on Wednesday, and tears continued to flow on Thursday morning.

“What people don’t realize is her door stays open to us until 10 o’clock at night if you need it,” said Karen Herring, director of marketing. She has listened to us lose loved ones, raise children, lose co-workers … It’s hard to find a true leader whose heart is open to you at all levels. And those are going to be some gibe shores to fill.”

“I’ve been here 21 years in July, and Teresa is the person who has had the most impact on me of anyone in my life,” said Trey Wofford, director of outpatient services. “I’ve come to her for a lot of different reasons, both personal and professional, and she’s always been there for me.”

Amy Minor, chief nursing office, said she is “heartbroken.”

“At first it was shock, then sadness, then fear,” Minor said. “But as we’ve had time to kind of resign ourselves, we know she’s always going to be with us. She’s led a tremendous culture change, and most everybody would consider her a friend, not just a boss.”

Minor said Grimes’ commitment to doing the right things first set the example for all. “I don’t think it would have changed without her leadership. She taught us that quality has to come first, patients have to come first … all the rest will take care of itself.”

And Grimes leaves a legacy with the staff. “Faith,” Minor said. “Faith in God; faith in people; faith in each other; and faith in the team.”

Grimes gave a 90-day notice and said she will focus now on helping the board members hire her replacement. “This board, the City of Troy, and the community have been so good to me. It’s important to me that they find the right person,” she said.