EXCLUSIVE: Little named interim CEO at River Park

Bill Little, left, and Tim McGill.
Bill Little, left, and Tim McGill.

MCMINNVILLE – The top executive at Saint Thomas Highlands Medical Center in Sparta will be pulling double duty starting next month, after being named the interim CEO of a sister hospital in neighboring McMinnville.

Bill Little, who has served as chief executive officer at Highlands since mid-2012, will serve in the same capacity at River Park Hospital, too, effective Nov. 1. Officials at Saint Thomas Health, whose parent company Ascension acquired the two facilities this summer, along with DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River in Woodbury, confirmed the move on Wednesday.

Little will be taking over upon the departure of Tim McGill, who is marking his return to Livingston Regional Hospital where he served as CEO from 1993-2008. He starts Nov. 2.

Saint Thomas held reception for McGill and his wife, Kathy, Tuesday.

“It was somewhat unexpected. We were sorry to see Tim go, but I think he felt he was being called back to the hospital where he had served a number of years before,” Gordon Ferguson, president, Saint Thomas Health Regional Hospitals, said.

There was no word on when – or if – a search for a permanent CEO at River Park would begin. Saint Thomas Health acquired the four Upper Cumberland facilities from Capella Healthcare, which they operated jointly for three years, in July; the deal was finalized in August. Officials are in the midst of transitioning associates and physicians to the Saint Thomas system, a not-for-profit health care model, and studying future needs.

“It is not necessarily a permanent solution,” Ferguson said of Little’s position. “We’re still assessing the whole organizational structure of our (new) regional hospitals, to see where there’s opportunities for some synergy between those facilities and how they relate to our structure within Saint Thomas Health. We want Bill to get down there and help us assess that situation.”

It’s not entirely unusual for CEOs to oversee two hospital campuses. For example, within the Saint Thomas system, Don King heads both Saint Thomas Midtown and West hospitals. Sue Conley serves as CEO of both DeKalb and Stones River, respectively.

Even Little, a Smithville native, has served dual roles before, at DeKalb and Stones River in 2009.

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