Originally created 06/07/01

Doctors Hospital CEO will leave at end of month



Doctors Hospital chief executive officer Michael Kerner will trade Augusta for his hometown of Richmond, Va., next month.

Mr. Kerner, 44, informed HCA officials that he will leave at the end of the month to become executive vice president and administrator of St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond. Both his parents and his wife's mother are still there and Mr. Kerner wanted to be closer to family, said Jeff Simless, vice president for business development at Doctors.

"It's strictly a family thing," Mr. Simless said. "They realize if they don't go back home soon there may not be a reason to go back."

Mr. Kerner did not immediately return a phone message left with his office. He is trading the 355-bed HCA hospital in Augusta for a 391-bed facility owned by the Bon Secours Health System, the seventh largest Catholic health system in the country. Ironically, Mr. Kerner's biggest competition in Richmond will be his old employer - HCA, Mr. Simless said.

Mr. Kerner has been CEO at Doctors since February 1996, when it was called Columbia Augusta Medical Center. Prior to that, he had been CEO at Northlake Regional Medical Center in Atlanta.

HCA has already formed a search committee for his replacement, including four or five local physicians, Mr. Simless said.