After a national search for a physician who could bridge the gap between doctors and administrators, Beaufort Memorial Hospital officials chose one already on staff.
Dr. Kurt Gambla, an internist with more than two decades of local practice, will be the hospital's first chief medical officer. He is transitioning out of patient treatment and into the administrative position, officially beginning his new role June 1.
"It's not that anything was ever really broken that needed to be fixed; this is more about how can we position ourselves to be cost-effective, to provide the best services," Gambla said.
The addition of a chief medical officer is a step many hospitals are taking, Beaufort Memorial CEO and president Rick Toomey said.
"As health care continues to get more and more complex and as hospitals continue to face more and more challenges, I think having a physician leader as part of the senior management team is becoming ... almost an imperative," he said.
Beaufort Memorial has more than 200 doctors on its medical staff, and part of Gambla's job will be ensuring the doctors who provide daily care and the administrators who make operational decisions and policies communicate well, Toomey said.
Gambla said that also includes explaining management's decisions and policies to physicians. Other duties include recruiting new physicians and helping start new programs and services.
Non-emergency cardiovascular intervention, palliative home care for chronically ill patients and nontraditional medicine are among the services Gambla said he would like to start.
Many patients seek alternative treatment such as acupuncture and consult the Internet for remedies, he said. The hospital could help them "put the whole picture together."
Gambla graduated from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, spent two years working for Beaufort-Jasper Comprehensive Health Services and six years in private practice. He then joined Beaufort Memorial Primary Care in 1999. He also spent 16 years as THA Group's hospice director.
Gambla was hospital chief of staff from 2003 to 2005 and chairman of the Credentials Committee, which reviews and evaluates qualifications of physicians applying for hospital privileges. He also served on about a dozen other committees.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.