The Hilton Head Regional Healthcare chief executive who oversaw the opening of a medical campus in Bluffton and several specialty centers at Hilton Head Hospital is retiring at the end of next month, he said Wednesday.
Mark O'Neil, 62, will step down as president and CEO of Hilton Head Regional Healthcare on Nov. 30. The system operates the Bluffton-Okatie Outpatient Center, the Bluffton Medical Campus, and Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina hospitals.
"I strongly feel that these hospitals are treasures to the community," O'Neil said. "I feel good that when I need care in the future, I'll come knocking on the door."
A replacement is expected to be named by the start of next year, board chairman Don Creamer said.
O'Neil took over in late 2009 after running hospital systems along the East Coast.
The upstate New York native led the Hilton Head system through tremendous growth. Admissions at Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina have jumped 12.5 percent during his five years, he said.
At the same time, he helped the hospitals navigate increased regulations, competition and the Affordable Care Act.
"The hospital industry looks entirely different than it does when I first got here," he said.
O'Neil pushed to start specialty programs that fit patient demographics without duplicating services.
On Hilton Head, he worked to open orthopedic and spine centers.
In Hardeeville, he oversaw construction of a $1.4 million women's unit with space to deliver 1,000 babies a year at Coastal Carolina.
In Bluffton, he saw the opening this year of an $18 million medical campus. The 60,000-square-foot facility houses cardiac services, primary-care physicians, pediatric specialists and a nationally accredited breast health center, among other services. In addition, Coastal Carolina's Center for Hyperbarics and Wound Healing moved to the location.
Jeff Reuben, a surgeon who left Beaufort Memorial in 2011 to join the Hilton Head spine center, said O'Neil turned the island hospital from "a nice community hospital to a place that has significant specialty care."
"We'll miss him tremendously."
O'Neil will stay on Hilton Head. He will remain a member of the board of directors for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and serve as the 2015 chairman of the board of directors of the United Way of the Lowcountry, he said.
"When I came here I thought Hilton Head was a sleepy rural hospital -- and it was anything but that," he said. "We've been able to recruit top physicians to this world-class destination, and I'm proud of that."
Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.
- Babies soon to be delivered again at Coastal Carolina Hospital, March 2, 2014
- Hilton Head Hospital's outpatient center opens in Bluffton, Jan. 14, 2014