St. Luke’s Hospital hires new CEO

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, October 28, 2009

&dquo;We are pleased to have someone with the experience and knowledge in healthcare delivery that Ken Shull will bring to our hospital,&dquo; said Susan McHugh, chair of the St. Luke&squo;s Hospital board of trustees. &dquo;His selection was the culmination of a nationwide search that identified a number of excellent candidates. &bsp;

&dquo;The search committee spent numerous hours of thoughtful deliberation to ensure our selection would bring the leadership experience and strategic development that St. Luke&squo;s needs to move the hospital to a higher level of service.&dquo;

Michael C. Tarwater, chief executive officer of Carolinas HealthCare System, also praised the new CEO&squo;s credentials, noting that Shull was a standout choice not only because of his professional record but also because of his history of active leadership in community affairs.

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&dquo;Ken has the skills and sensitivities needed to ensure that St. Luke&squo;s will continue meeting the most important healthcare needs of those who live in and around Polk County,&dquo; Tarwater said. &dquo;I know he is looking forward to getting connected to the community, and gathering feedback from medical staff, hospital staff, government leaders and all area citizens who depend on St. Luke&squo;s for care.&dquo;

In his new position, Shull joins the executive management team of Carolinas HealthCare System, based in Charlotte, which oversees operations through a management services agreement. This affiliation, according to Tarwater, helps to ensure access to a much broader array of resources.

&dquo;The economics of the times make it difficult for small, independent hospitals to keep up with current demand,&dquo; Tarwater said, &dquo;and that is why there is a growing trend to maintain some type of affiliation with a larger system. The advantages are many, and include group purchasing opportunities and sharing best practices in areas such as financial management, recruiting of physicians and staff, safety and quality improvement.&dquo;

With his past experience at a hospital similar in size to St. Luke&squo;s, Shull said he is looking forward to new challenges and integrating into a new community.

&dquo;I am extremely impressed with the commitment of the trustees,&dquo; he said, &dquo;and I look forward to working with them as we address the needs of the hospital and of the community.&dquo;

A former captain in the United States Air Force, Shull brings a wealth of professional experience to St. Luke&squo;s Hospital. His background includes eight years as president of the South Carolina Hospital Association and an impressive list of professional activities that includes developing policy, reviewing hospital standards, organizing a free clinic association, and raising more than $2.5 million for operations.&bsp; He also provided counsel on healthcare issues for members of the state legislature.

During his healthcare career, Shull has served as chairman of the Hospital Advisory Council for The Joint Commission, the nation&squo;s largest hospital accrediting agency. In addition, he served as chairman of the Governing Council of the Section for Small and Rural Hospitals of the American Hospital Association. &bsp;

In 2006, he was awarded the American College of Healthcare Executives Regent&squo;s Award.&bsp; Shull also received distinguished service awards from both the North Carolina and South Carolina hospital associations.

Shull earned a master of hospital administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University; a master of business administration degree from Southern Illinois University; and a bachelor of arts degree from Denison University.

A resident of Highlands since 2005, Shull is active in his church and Rotary. He and his wife, Heidi, have two adult children and four grandchildren, with another grandchild expected. He said he looks forward to being closer to his children after taking the new position.

Shull succeeds Alex Bell, who served as interim CEO while the search was under way.

&dquo;On behalf of our board,&dquo; McHugh said, &dquo;I would like to express sincere and deep appreciation to Alex Bell. He has done a first class job managing the daily operations of St. Luke&squo;s since April.&dquo;

Bell said he will be working to assure a smooth transition with Shull before transferring back to his position as vice president of support services for Cleveland County Healthcare System.

&dquo;I have had a great experience getting to know the physicians and staff at St. Luke&squo;s,&dquo; Bell said. &dquo;I am confident this will be a positive move for the hospital and the community it serves.&dquo;

About St. Luke&squo;s Hospital

St. Luke&squo;s Hospital ( is a 25-bed critical access hospital with a staff of more than 200 medical professionals.&bsp; The hospital offers acute medical services that include 24-hour emergency care; advanced orthopaedic and general surgical procedures; a hyperbaric and wound care center; geriatric-psychiatric inpatient care; and newly updated diagnostic imaging services that include digital mammography, 16-slice CT capabilities and expanded MRI services.

About Carolinas HealthCare System

Carolinas HealthCare System ( includes 29 affiliated hospitals in North and South Carolina.&bsp; Carolinas HealthCare employs some 1,400 physicians and serves patients at more than 500 care locations including physician practices, nursing homes, surgical and rehabilitation centers, home health agencies and other facilities. These operations comprise approximately 6,000 licensed beds and employ some 44,000 people.

CHS&squo;s flagship facility is Carolinas Medical Center (, an 874-bed hospital in Charlotte. CMC also serves as one of North Carolina&squo;s five Academic Medical Center Teaching Hospitals, providing graduate medical education for more than 250 physicians in 18 specialties.