St. Luke’s Hospital CEO departing as chief executive officer 

Published 11:18 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

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Alex Bell named interim CEO


Michelle Fortune is departing her role as chief executive officer of St. Luke’s Hospital, a position she has held since March 2019. Michelle’s last day will be December 31, 2023, but she and her husband will remain residents of Polk County.

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“We are sad to see Michelle go,” said Board Chair Bill Miller. “But she was offered a tremendous opportunity that allows her to amplify her talents to multiple hospitals across the Midwest,” he continued. In her new position, Michelle will serve urban and rural hospitals in four states, improving and expanding specialty care in the region.  

Michelle hit the ground running at St. Luke’s nearly five years ago. During her tenure and despite the challenges of a pandemic, the hospital has become one of the top critical access hospitals in the southeast. 

Notable accomplishments during her tenure include moving from negative operating margins to positive margins each year, advancing facility equipment, infrastructure, and technology without debt, and launching best-in-class CT scanner, 3D mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, and ECHO stress-testing.

Under Fortune’s leadership, the hospital also expanded the Cancer & Infusion Center and Pain Management Practices to full-time, established full-time Urology Services, initiated a new Cardiology program, advanced General Surgery with a focus on breast cancer surgery and laparoscopic surgery, brought burn and wound expertise aboard and achieved Rural Health Clinic designation for Saluda Family Medicine from CMS. St. Luke’s is also launching a new tele-behavioral health program that will provide care to residents 18 years of age and older in 2024.

St. Luke’s Board of Trustees has selected Alex Bell as interim CEO until a permanent leader is named. Alex previously served as Interim CEO at St Luke’s and looks forward to returning. 

“Alex will continue to advance the many hospital initiatives established during Michelle’s service to St Luke’s.” said Miller. 

A tenured executive, Bell has held many positions with Atrium Health since 1994 and is currently Facility Executive for Atrium Health Kings Mountain. He is Chairman of the Board for KidSenses Children’s Museum, a member of the Healthcare Foundation of Cleveland County, serves as the Chairman of the Rutherfordton Planning and Zoning Committee, and is a member of the Kings Mountain Rotary. 

“I have known Alex for over a decade,” says Fortune, “and I’m delighted he will be assuming my responsibilities at St Luke’s. His love for this area and knowledge of the healthcare industry will serve our community well. I look forward to continuing to support our beloved local hospital and team as a proud community resident.”

Alex resides in Rutherfordton with his wife, Jane.


Submitted by Dean Graves