St. Luke's Hospital's CEO Announces Retirement Effective July 2016


Ken A Shull, FACHE, president of St. Luke's Hospital for nearly seven years, announced his retirement during a March 4 meeting of the Executive Committee of the hospital Board of Trustees. Board members, Medical Staff, hospital teammates and volunteers are being notified of his decision to retire this July to spend more time with his family after a long and successful career in healthcare.

"We were sad to hear of Ken's decision, but we consider ourselves fortunate to have experienced his leadership," said hospital Board Chairman Clark Benson. "Ken has had a transformative influence on our community hospital. He's guided us through some difficult times for the healthcare industry and led the change for some very exciting growth for St. Luke's Hospital. No doubt, we will all miss Ken's leadership, his enthusiasm, his insights and optimism--even his jokes!"

Shull joined St. Luke's Hospital in November 2009 after a nationwide search for a new Chief Executive Officer to lead the Critical Access Hospital through increased challenges for the healthcare industry. Employed by Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS), Shull came to St. Luke's Hospital through a management agreement with the Charlotte-based healthcare system, and he has focused on the stability and success of the 35-bed, community hospital. CHS and the Executive Committee of St. Luke's Board have begun the search for a new CEO.

Since moving to our community, Shull has worked tirelessly to improve the quality and reputation of healthcare services available to Polk County and the Carolina Foothills. From patient and employee satisfaction scores to national recognition for quality by The Joint Commission, St. Luke's Hospital has steadily improved after many years of financial losses.

For the past six years, the not-for-profit community hospital has improved its operating margin after 14 years in the red. The county's largest private employer, St. Luke's manages an annual payroll of approximately $15 million for more than 300 teammates who provide acute care services, 24/7, 365 days a year.

With stability and an operating margin, the hospital was in a position to finance the $6.5 million Orthopedic patient wing and state-of-the-art Rehabilitation Center which

opened in January 2014. Shull's leadership helped St. Luke's Hospital Foundation's fundraising efforts to gain support and raise more than $2 million from the community. It was the first major construction project since the hospital was built in 1972.

Soon after settling in Polk County in 2009, Shull was immersed in the community-he joined the Rotary Club of Tryon, the Tryon Presbyterian Church and the Tryon Country Club. For the Tryon Barbecue and Music Festival, he served as a celebrity judge before taking the course-and the oath-to be certified as a "real" Kansas City-approved barbecue judge. Shull also participates in and supports numerous community events including Relay for Life and Ache Around the Lake, a local fun run/walk to support St. Luke's Hospital.

While his height makes it hard to miss him at any event, Shull is just as active and visible as the CEO at St. Luke's Hospital. He meets and greets staff, patients, visitors-all with a smile and usually with a joke. He is known as a "gentle giant"-guiding the hospital, the staff, physicians and board, towards higher quality, personal engagement, accountability and transparency.

In his short time at St. Luke's Hospital, Shull bridged relationships in the community and helped energize hospital trustees, employees, volunteers and physicians with the 2014 opening of the new Orthopedic wing and Rehab Center. He has helped lead the Board through a major investment for Electronic Health Records and led St. Luke's clinical staff and physicians through the maze of "meaningful use." Patient satisfaction and quality scores have climbed, and teammate morale has improved to make St. Luke's Hospital the best place for exceptional care, close to home.

Over the coming months, Shull will continue to work to bring cancer services to Polk County through the Levine Cancer Institute, also affiliated with CHS in Charlotte.

With 43 years in healthcare, Shull has served as CEO at several small and large hospitals in North and South Carolina and in an advisory capacity for The Joint Commission, the nation's premier accreditation agency for healthcare providers. He has served on the board of directors for the Polk Wellness Center and for Hospice of the Carolina Foothills. He is a past chair of the Western North Carolina Health Network and a guest speaker at Rural Health Conferences. He was named the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year in 2015, and most recently was named by Becker's Hospital Review as one of the Top 50 CEOS of Rural Hospitals.

Shull came to St. Luke's with an impressive administrative background. He spent eight years as president of the South Carolina Hospital Association and gained decades of experience in hospital management at various hospitals and hospital systems in Virginia

and the two Carolinas, including a stint as president and CEO of Lexington County Health Services District, in West Columbia, SC, which operated a 292-bed acute hospital, 354-bed nursing center, and an ambulatory care facility in nearby Irmo, SC.

Prior to heading up the Lexington County health system, Shull was president/CEO of three smaller hospitals: Stanly Memorial Hospital, a 126-bed facility in Albemarle, NC; Cannon Memorial Hospital in Pickens SC., with 56 beds; and Highlands Cashiers Hospital, another 25-bed, critical access facility in western North Carolina.

Shull has a Bachelor's degree from Dennison University in Granville, OH, a Master's degree in Hospital Administration from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and a Masters of Business Administration from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Il. He was an administrative resident at Community Hospital Roanoke Valley in Roanoke, VA. He is certified in hospital management and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Shull and his wife Heidi both love this area and plan to remain after his retirement. Both have been active in this community and look forward to more time on the golf course and more time with their five grandchildren.

"Ken is leaving St. Luke's Hospital far better off today than when he joined us nearly seven years ago, and we sincerely wish him well in his retirement," Benson said. "It's time to build on Ken's success so our hospital will continue serve our community with exceptional care, close to home."