The Medical Center of Central Georgia named a new president and CEO.
A woman from New Jersey, with ties to Georgia and a nursing background, starts at the hospital October 1st.
After ten years in New Jersey, Ninfa Saunders says she's coming home to Georgia, lured by the top job at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. Although she is originally from the Phillipines, Saunders says she moved to Georgia as a young adult.
She said by phone about MCCG, "It has a state reputation, but also has a national reputation. It could rival many organizations across the US."
Saunders lived in the Peach State for more than 20 years, working as a nurse at Emory and on the administrative staff at the Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur. She moved with her family to New Jersey in 2002 to take a job with Virtua Health, a large health care system in southern New Jersey. She took a position as that hospital Chief Operating Officer in 2010.
Sauders says her nursing background, and her parent's illnesses gave her a unique outlook on healthcare and a focus on patients.
She said, "Seeing my parents go through a very difficult time until their death, it really gives me a perspective, not only from the eyes of the patient, but the eyes of the family. The confluence of that with what I know as a clinician, really puts patient advocacy at the center of what I do."
Chairman of the Medical Center of Central Georgia board, Nancy Anderson, says Saunders education and accolades impressed the search committee, but her vision for health care's future made her stand out.
Anderson said,"She has that clinical focus. She knows doctors are really important. She knows we need to get them involved and get on the same page. I think she can help us get there."
Saunders sees preparing the Medical Center for the challenges of the new health care law as a looming obstacle, but one she's ready to handle.
She takes the job, becoming the hospital's first female and minority CEO. Saunders said, "Above all, I see myself as an executive and a healthcare leader that really tries to look at what the mission, vision and values of an organization is."
Saunders says she wants to be a partner with the community the Medical Center serves, with an open door for communication and connection. She described her approach to the community as transparent, and says she wants to immerse herself in the job and in the area before setting priorities.
Saunders praised the leadership of retiring CEO Don Faulk, saying she wants to build off his success.
She will move to Macon with her husband, who is financial planner.
Anderson said the search committee of eight people looked for the right person for the job for seven months. They narrowed it down from a pool of 16 people to two.
Saunders said the visited Macon and surrounding areas three times during the interview process, and was impressed by the area's growth.