King talks CCMC, retirement plans

PARKERSBURG – Mike King hopes he will leave the community in better shape than he found it when he steps down as president and CEO of Camden Clark Medical Center at the end of June.

King this past week announced his retirement effective June 30. David K. McClure, executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been named interim CEO until a permanent chief is found.

The transfer of power will occur June 1 with King staying to help through the transition.

King, in an interview with the newspaper, said the time came to step down.

”I turned 60 this year,” he said. ”I have children on the East Coast, on the West Coast and in Texas. I have four grandchildren now. I am blessed to be in a place in my life where I can retire. It just seemed like the right time.”

And the plan to consolidate Camden Clark and St. Joseph’s in the next few years is set and laid out, he said.

”Is there ever really a good time to retire,” he asked with a laugh. ”It is hard to let go of something that you love.

”I love this hospital and I love this community. The decision hasn’t been that hard, but the letting go has been very difficult for me,” King said. “Dave (McClure) or whoever comes in behind me will have the chance to take it to the next level.”

King and his wife have not decided where they’ll end up, whether they will stay in the community or relocate closer to family. In the coming months they will spend time with their children and grandchildren across the country.

”One of the things about retirement is you can’t control much,” he said. ”You have to adjust to the idea that you will go wherever life takes you. That is pretty much my attitude right now. I am going to go where life takes me. It may be here, it may be somewhere else.”

King said the merger of Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital into a single unified medical center is his proudest accomplishment.

While there was some opposition to the consolidation of the two facilities and to the planned closure of the St. Joseph’s Campus, King said changes in healthcare brought about a need to consolidate into a single facility.

”It fundamentally strengthens health care in this community,” he said.

When there were two competing hospitals, neither could afford to staff critical-care physicians who specialize in intensive care medicine, King said. Now doctors are in place who can do that, which improves the quality of local care, he said.

”Over time, I think folks will understand more about how healthcare is changing and how hospitals are changing and how this is the right move,” King said. “If it is the right thing to do, you have to find a way to make the right thing happen,” he said.

Among the principles taught in the Boy Scouts, with which King has been involved for years, is leaving a place better than it was found.

”I thought the best way to leave this community better than I found it was bringing the two hospitals together,” King said.

For all his accomplishments at the medical center, King said he wanted to take more steps to improve community health programs by taking a bigger role in health services such as screenings and education.

”We actually do quite a bit of that, but I really would have liked to see us expand that in a big way,” King said. ”I think that will be an opportunity for Dave and the community.”

The medical center’s initiative to make primary care more accessible in the community is not complete.

”I hope the hospital really picks that up,” he said.

With changes because of the Affordable Care Act and more people having insurance, healthcare must be more readily available, he said.

King’s priority remains the consolidation of the two campuses.

”This is something that has a lot of moving parts,” he said. ”I want to get that initiated, make all the announcements and take care of that before I leave.”

The process has been accelerated and it may be completed before the original goal of the end of 2017.

King came to to the former Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital in 2000 after 23 years in various executive capacities at Charleston Area Medical Center. He served as Camden-Clark’s chief operating officer until 2007, when he was named president and CEO.

In 2011, he became president and CEO of Camden Clark Medical Center following the merger of Camden-Clark with St. Joseph’s.

”My impression of Camden Clark when I arrived was that of a small community hospital,” he said. ”During my tenure, I hope the community now sees Camden Clark as a medical center. It is just beginning that development, because I think in the future there is a lot more opportunities to expand services.”

The employees at the medical center continue to be the reason for its continued success, King said.

”People have thought they have to leave the area to get really good health care, they don’t,” he said. ”I think it will be Dave and the board’s job to continue that development to build confidence in the community of what they really do have here. I think you will see Camden Clark evident in more corners of the community.”

Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs for Camden Clark, said many employees were saddened to hear of King’s retirement.

Plans are in the works to commemorate King’s service to the medical center, Brunicardi said.

The Parkersburg area has been King’s home for 14 years and he has been through a lot of good times and bad times. He has had to make some tough decisions.

He has appreciated the support he has had from the hospital board and others.

”I have been very grateful and I have viewed my job as a job of service to the community,” he said. ”I am very grateful to everyone to have had this opportunity. I hope I didn’t let them down. It was my mission to do what was right for the community. I leave feeling like I accomplished something.”

Regardless of where he goes or what he does, King said there is always something that needs to be done for someone, whether it is the Boy Scouts, the United Way or something else.

”I may be ending this job, but there is some work to do somewhere, whether I am paid or not,” he said. ”Volunteering has always been important to me.

”Whatever it will be, I will find a niche for a work life beyond this work life. This chapter is ending, but there is something else out there for me,” he said. “I am going to find ways to contribute back.”