08/05/11 — Cherry director resigns his post

View Archive

Cherry director resigns his post

By From staff reports
Published in News on August 5, 2011 1:46 PM

Philip Cook

Cherry Hospital Director Philip Cook announced today that he will leave his position at the state psychiatric facility to return to the private health care sector, effective Aug. 30.

Cook had served as director of Cherry since April 2009 when he took over following a tumultuous period at the hospital. When he took over, the hospital was being run by independent health care management company, The Compass Group, after former director Dr. Jack St. Clair stepped down in December 2008 following the loss of Cherry's federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare certification after the death of a patient.

Since then, the hospital has regained its certification and the state has moved forward with plans to replace the current facility, which ranges in age from 50 years to 90 years old. In fact, Phase One of the $138 million facility was just completed July 14 with the placing of the last steel girder. The new hospital will serve 38 eastern counties and will open in 2013.

However, Cook's tenure has also included a measure of controversy stemming from a rash of staff injuries from patient assaults and the state's new zero-tolerance philosophy, which grew out of the 2008 death at Cherry.

Still, according to a release from the state Department of Health and Human Services, Secretary Lanier Cansler thanked Cook for his service and said the Department will begin work on recruiting a replacement during Cook's final weeks as director.

"I will always appreciate my time at Cherry," Cook told hospital staff Friday, according to the release. "I leave with great thankfulness for what we have achieved together. Our hospital is better positioned to provide the critical care to our fellow citizens of eastern North Carolina. Thank you for the role you play in making our hospital a great place to receive and give care."

Cook, a native of eastern North Carolina and former private practice therapist in Carteret and Craven counties, came to Cherry from Trinity Leadership Partners, LLC, a behavioral health consulting firm that he served as president. Prior to that, he was division president of Psychiatric Solutions Inc., which managed hospitals in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Mississippi. From 1995 to 2006 he was chief executive officer of Parkridge Valley Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn.