published Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Dr. James Creel named interim Erlanger medical chief

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Erlanger officials announced the appointment of an interim chief medical officer Monday, after the public hospital's former chief medical officer tendered his resignation on Friday.

Dr. James Creel will begin as interim chief medical officer for Erlanger Health System on May 14, according to an announcement sent out by Erlanger's interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson to Erlanger staff.

Creel is the medical director of Erlanger's Emergency and Disaster Services and the medical director of Hamilton County EMS. He served as Erlanger's chief of staff last year.

"We are extremely pleased that Dr. Creel has agreed to assume this critical role during Erlanger's rebuilding period," Woodard-Thompson wrote in the announcement. "He has been instrumental in many of our strategic initiatives, including leading the way for Erlanger's first Emergency Medicine residency program."

Dr. Cy Huffman served as chief medical officer at Erlanger for four years before his resignation, with a salary of $309,000 in 2010.

Creel's salary in his new position was not available Monday afternoon.

According to information posted on the Hamilton County Emergency Services website, Creel graduated from the University of Texas in 1964 and received his M.D. from the University Autonoma of Guadalajara, Mexico. He and his family moved to Chattanooga several years ago.

The changes in head doctor at Erlanger come as part of ongoing shifts in leadership amid increasing financial losses. The hospital has lost $17 million in the first nine months of the fiscal year, in part because some doctors have shifted to doing lucrative surgeries at Chattanooga's other hospitals.

During their April board meeting, Erlanger trustees approved resolutions to establish a search committee for a new CEO and hire a consulting team to address operational improvements.

However, some trustees have voiced concerns whether the hospital will be able to attract high-caliber candidates for the CEO position given its present financial state.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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