12/22/06 — Duplin hospital chief resigns, leaving January 1

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Duplin hospital chief resigns, leaving January 1

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on December 22, 2006 1:55 PM

After three-and-a-half years at the helm of Duplin General Hospital, president and chief operating officer Doug Yarbrough is resigning, effective Jan. 1.

He will be replaced by an employee of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina -- a regional health system serving 1.2 million people in 29 counties in the region.

Based in Greenville, the consortium's flagship hospital is Pitt County Memorial, and it is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

"They'll start effective Jan. 1 -- a good time for them to come in and start fresh," Yarbrough said.

He expects that he will be replaced by an interim chief executive officer as the search for a permanent one begins.

Of the top three management positions, though, his is the only one changing. Director of nursing Becky Ross and chief financial officer Lucinda Maready will remain in place.

"We've known all along this could happen and I'm certainly OK with it and understand," he said. "I'll be stepping back completely."

Duplin General has long partnered with University Health, but just recently began negotiations for UHS to take over the day-to-day management. Because those negotiations are still in their final stages, however, UHS officials would not comment on their pending takeover.

But to Yarbrough, the change is definitely a step forward for the hospital.

"This is really kind of the best of both worlds. The hospital will still be run by the same board of directors. They will still have ultimate authority over what is done here," he said. "The only thing different is that University Health will be responsible for the day-to-day operations.

"The hospital will get the benefits and resources of UHS and Pitt (Memorial Hospital), but it'll remain under the local control of the board of directors."

Already, University Health has been helping Duplin General create a new marketing plan and a new facilities improvement plan.

It also has been helping the hospital address its chronic budget shortfall by improving its billing practices.

"This has been something we've worked on for a long time," Yarbrough said. "I'm very familiar with the people up there and they do a good job.

"They understand the community and they know the problems we have. Our missions are very similar.

"Theirs is to improve the health care of the people in eastern North Carolina and ours is to improve the health care of the people in Duplin County."

Because of that familiarity and the expertise University Health will be bringing to the hospital, Yarbroughsaid he is confident that he is leaving Duplin County in good hands.

"I want to see the hospital succeed, and I think this is the best way for it to succeed," Yarbrough said.