Larry Sanders, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Columbus Regional Healthcare System today announced his plan to retire, effective September 30, 2011. Sanders will have been associated with The Medical Center and Columbus Regional for 30 years. During his tenure, Columbus Regional Healthcare System was formed from The Medical Center, a single facility with annual revenue of $50 million, and grew to become the multi-hospital integrated health delivery system with annual revenue of more than $1 billion that it is today.
“The Columbus Regional Board of Directors has been advised of my decision and the Executive Committee of the board is formulating the plan for the way in which the board will choose to deal with the selection of a successor,” according to Sanders.
“It is very hard to believe that 30 years have passed,” Sanders said. “Both my children have come into this world at The Medical Center. I have experienced those peaks of joy when seeing them for the very first time. And I have walked through the dark valleys when diagnosed and treated for cancer … more than once. Today my health is excellent in large part due to our wonderfully developed cancer center and its associated clinical staff. Like many, I have aging parents living 400 miles away who did all they could for me as parents and now that their needs are increasing they truly deserve to have a son more available to assist during their time of need.”
“Larry has built a terrific organization. He has done a remarkable job in developing first-rate medical services for this region,” said George Jeter, Columbus Regional board member. “I have had the pleasure of serving on the American and Georgia Hospital Association boards. I have met and worked closely with some of the best CEOs and leaders in the health care industry. I would put Larry’s expertise, judgment and leadership ability up against the best of them. We have been fortunate to have his guidance and direction to benefit our community for 30 years.”
During his three decades of leadership, Sanders points with satisfaction to a long list of accomplishments by the board, employees and physicians associated with Columbus Regional. These are a few of the highlights:
The formation and building of Columbus Regional Healthcare System from concept and idea to implementation and success, from a $50 million company to a $1 billion company,
The development of the John B. Amos Cancer Center and the support provided by the clinical professionals and community to ensure excellence,
Bringing Doctors Hospital and Hughston Hospital in Columbus into the Columbus Regional organization,
Dedicated surgeon-driven Regional Trauma Program,
Excellence and Family Practice Faculty solidarity in Graduate Medical Education,
Spring Harbor as a model senior living facility,
Circle of Care, the state of Georgia’s first Preferred Provider Organization,
Evergreen Medical Group and Health Plan,
Ronald McDonald House,
The Health and Human Services Center, one of the community’s first public-private partnerships,
Development of Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Phenix City
Sanders reflected, “All the programs, services, facilities, issues and many other projects undertaken by our medical community, the board, our employees and our community make me realize how very fortunate I am to have the privilege of serving with such a creative, talented, skilled and dedicated group of caring people.”
“While Larry’s contributions at the community level are well known, he is widely regarded as one of the most innovative, respected health care leaders in the nation,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Joseph Parker. “His remarkable leadership in organizations like GHA, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) has always been a great source of pride within the Georgia hospital community. While we celebrate with Larry in his much-deserved retirement, his many contributions to our field will be greatly missed.”
Thomas C. Dolan, PhD, FACHE, CAE, president and CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives, extended his congratulations to Sanders. “I wish Larry all the best in his well-deserved retirement,” Dolan said. “Larry has been a wonderful and accomplished leader in healthcare at the local, state and national levels. We at ACHE are especially grateful for his leadership as a Regent, Governor and Chairman Officer. These are just some of the reasons why Larry was given our highest award, the Gold Medal, in 2006.”
Columbus neurosurgeon and Columbus Regional board member Dr. Michael Gorum commented, “The fact that Larry had incredible vision was obvious when I met him over a decade ago. He has been a leader on the national stage while simultaneously guiding Columbus Regional through years of exceptional growth. As our medical community learned to deal with unprecedented change in how we deliver care, Larry was years ahead. Most importantly, he was able to see what was happening outside Columbus, and embrace it rather than resist it. This is what we will miss most with his departure.”
Dr. Frank Star, former board member and former Chief of the Medical Staff, said, “One of Larry’s most significant contributions has been to create an environment for individual physicians to practice in a variety of settings. He has done this during enormous shifts in physician attitudes ranging from confrontation to ambivalence and cooperation, and has done so in a civil manner. There have been failures, of course, but he has also provided opportunities for physician input to shape and direct health care and medical practice to higher levels in service to our patients.”
Sanders began his tenure at The Medical Center in 1981 in the role of Vice President and beginning in 1983 served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In 1986, following the creation of Columbus Regional Healthcare System, he was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and in 1989 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Columbus Regional.
His career in health care management began in 1974 following his graduation from the University of Alabama-Birmingham with a Master of Health Administration. He served in senior management roles at Shallowford Community Hospital in Atlanta and Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tenn. before coming to his post at The Medical Center in 1981.
Sanders and his wife Bonnie plan to reside in Columbus following his retirement.