Washington Co. Health System president, CEO Hamill to retire

June 29, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • James Hamill

HAGERSTOWN -- James Hamill, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health System, is retiring in March 2011, just three months after the new hospital is expected to open, the health system announced Tuesday.

Hamill became president in September 2000, succeeding Horace Murphy.

"I've enjoyed my time in this job. It's been a remarkable 10 years. It's gone incredibly quickly," Hamill said late Tuesday afternoon between meetings.

Hamill said he is not taking another job. He said he plans to stay in Hagerstown after he retires, but he does not expect to keep his seat on the health system's board of directors.

"I'm ready to go do some other things and enjoy life," said Hamill, 66. He and his wife, Pat, are looking forward to traveling and pursuing various hobbies.

The health system's Board of Trustees has appointed a search committee to identify Hamill's successor, according to a health system news release.


Hamill said he expects the search for his replacement to take six to seven months. He will help his successor with the transition before retiring, he said. Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm with an office in Bethesda, Md., will be assisting the health system in the national search, Hamill said.

Hamill said he did not know the salary range for the position. He declined to say how much he earns.

According to the health system's Form 990 -- a federally required tax form -- for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, Hamill earned $587,604, including compensation and contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred contributions.

The health system, which will be changing its name to Meritus Health, is one of Washington County's largest employers.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, the health system had 3,108 employees, and salary and wages of $134,329,206, Washington County Hospital spokeswoman Nicole Jovel wrote in an e-mail to The Herald-Mail.

Richard W. Phoebus, who was board chairman for the health system when Hamill was hired, described Hamill's tenure as outstanding.

"Obviously, the crowning accomplishment, although not the only accomplishment, is the struggle to build a new hospital and deliver that before he retired," Phoebus said.

The new regional medical center will be a legacy to the community for the next 40, 50, maybe 100 years, he said.

Meritus Medical Center is expected to open Dec. 11, Hamill said.

Hamill said he wanted to make sure everything was running correctly before he handed the reins to someone else.

The struggle for the new hospital included a court challenge by a citizens' group that was concerned about the location of the new hospital in the Robinwood area outside the eastern fringe of Hagerstown.

The proposal for the new hospital was announced in 2003. Ground wasn't broken until 2008.

Hamill said the new hospital was expected to cost $294 million.

In addition to the new hospital, Hamill said other accomplishments during his tenure included improvements in quality and safety, and making the organization technologically contemporary.

The health system introduced several technological firsts for the region, including 3-tesla magnetic resonance imaging, Hamill said.

"(We've) seen health care advance significantly in the past decade and a lot of people are responsible for that," Hamill said.

During Hamill's leadership, Washington County Hospital and its affiliated organizations brought needed services to the community, Board Chairman Phil Rohrer said in a prepared statement. Rohrer was not available for comment Tuesday, Jovel said.

"We are especially proud of the creation of the Special Care Nursery, our trauma designation and significantly expanded cardiology services such as angioplasty," Rohrer said.

Phoebus said Hamill's first job after he was hired was to stop the financial hemorrhaging at an assisted living center across the street from Robinwood Medical Center and get it back on track.

Hamill negotiated the sale of the health system's share in The Village at Robinwood, Phoebus said. The sale of the health system's interest in the retirement and assisted living community to Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries of Allentown, Pa., occurred in 2003, according to Herald-Mail archives.

The Herald-Mail Articles