After nearly a year as Sampson Regional Medical Center’s interim leader, Shawn Howerton, MD, was green-lighted Tuesday night to take the reins in a permanent capacity.
Hospital officials issued a press release Wednesday morning officially announcing the SRMC Board of Trustees actions, which came with a unanimous vote to hire Howerton as the chief operating officer for the hospital.
Howerton joined SRMC in 2011 as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and has served as the hospital’s interim CEO since November 2013. “During his tenure as chief medical officer, Howerton has been a tremendous asset to SRMC,” trustee board chairman Allie Ray McCullen said at the time of Howerton’s interim appointment last September.
McCullen echoed those sentiments and more following Tuesday night’s actions that place Howerton at the hospital’s helm as CEO, effectively immediately. He will serve dual roles as he continues his responsibilities as CMO.
“After considerable deliberation, the board is confident in its selection of Dr. Howerton as CEO,” attested the trustees’ chairman.
McCullen emphasized that the Board of Trustees committed itself to being diligent but deliberate in selecting the hospital’s next CEO. “As representatives of Sampson County residents, it is the goal of our board that SRMC continues providing quality medical services close to home. Dr. Howerton has shown great leadership and ability in the past seven months as he stepped up to fill the role as interim CEO. He is committed to the growth of Sampson Regional Medical Center and has a passion for ensuring that the hospital continues its focus on high patient satisfaction and the best quality care.”
The board’s decision to make Howerton the hospital’s interim leader came just one week after the resignation of David Masterson, who served as CEO from November 2007 to September 2013.
“As we launched the process to seek CEO candidates, we continued observing Dr. Howerton’s performance in the interim position,” stated McCullen in the release. He went on to explain that the board felt it had the right candidate in front of them. “We’ve been impressed by Dr. Howerton. The characteristics, experience, and vision he brings to the table are just what we would have expected of the right candidate,” said McCullen.
Howerton has been an active member of SRMC’s medical staff for many years, even prior to accepting the position as CMO. His experience allows him to see local healthcare from the provider perspective, which is a unique qualification among hospital CEOs. Dr. Howerton’s acceptance of the CEO position makes him one of only two physician CEOs in North Carolina hospitals and only the sixth CEO in SRMC’s history.
The view from the desk of the CEO is not entirely different from that of the physician, explained Dr. Howerton. “As a practicing physician, I am able to care for one patient at a time. This role as CEO will allow me the ability to positively impact the health of our whole community. It’s really all about our community and the patients we serve. Patient service is a priority for me, both as a physician and hospital administrator. I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to lead such a fine community hospital.”
Howerton said his aim is to continue carrying SRMC on a path toward performance improvement initiatives that focus on making the hospital a stronger, viable health system in the community. “We are progressive in using technology and building our resources around valuable services that keep care close to home. That means a strong focus on quality outcomes, raising the bar for patient satisfaction, and a commitment to maintaining a highly skilled and trained workforce within our health system,” said Dr. Howerton.
He and his wife, Dr. Amy Howerton, plan to keep their family practice open. The couple opened Howerton Family Medicine in Roseboro in 2005. “Rural healthcare is near and dear to us. We understand so well how important it is to keep good access to medical services in communities like Roseboro,” attested Howerton.
Howerton Family Medicine will maintain limited hours of operation as Howerton assumes his permanent role as CEO for SRMC.