In September, Sandlin will celebrate another anniversary marking 29 years with CMC, retaining his status as the longest tenured CEO at any HCA facility. The CMC parent company operates 163 locally managed hospitals in 20 states and England, employing nearly 200,000 people.
Friends, family and coworkers gathered last Wednesday to recognize Sandlin's corporate anniversary, but it is his continuous presence at the head of a single hospital that stands out.
Making special note of this achievement was Steve Corbeil, president of TriStar Health, a regional healthcare organization within HCA, encompassing 18 hospitals in Tennessee, Kentucky and north Georgia.
"We are extremely proud of the accomplishments and contributions that Keith Sandlin has made during his 35-year tenure with HCA," Corbeil said in a prepared statement. "Even more significantly, Keith has served as CEO at Cartersville Medical Center for 29 years, providing leadership and commitment to this valuable healthcare entity to northwest Georgia communities. From adding the neurosurgery service line, interventional cardiology and robotic surgery to recently earning an 'A' Hospital Safety Score by The Leapfrog Group, it is clear that Cartersville Medical Center's value has increased because of his dedication. I look forward to seeing the future growth and successes at Cartersville and know that Keith's commitment will be valuable to our entire health system."
Within HCA's TriStar Health, CMC is part of Redmond Health System, a local organization of healthcare services covering Cartersville and Rome. President of Redmond Health System and CEO of Redmond Regional Medical Center John Quinlivan has worked with Sandlin for about five years. Quinlivan described why such stability is uncommon within the industry and complimented Sandlin on his dedication to the community.
"I think the average tenure for a hospital administrator in the country is something like two years and there is a high turnover rate because it's a pretty demanding job, honestly. And then within HCA, a little movement is normal every maybe five to 10 years," Quinlivan said. "And Keith has certainly had opportunities, but it has been Keith's choice to remain at Cartersville just because he is very happy being a part of the community.
"It has been a very unique opportunity and I think a win-win. It has been a great thing for the Sandlin family. He has been able to raise all three girls right there in Cartersville."
Described as a dedicated family man, Sandlin also garnered praise from employees at CMC. Celebrating this year her own anniversary of 40 years, Senior Phlebotomist Betty Sue Ingram began her career at Sam Howell Memorial Hospital before it became CMC. Sandlin's leadership and longevity have helped foster a family-like environment, said Ingram.
"It's easy to follow a great leader," Ingram said. "I have been fortunate enough to know Keith Sandlin since he began working here at CMC. Mr. Sandlin is an excellent CEO, a true leader with an open-door policy that is a reflection on his good nature and warm and caring personality. I feel he represents the heart of the hospital."
Looking toward the future, both Corbeil and Quinlivan made note of their satisfaction to see Sandlin continue in his role as CMC embarks on a $30 million expansion. Work will commence in September to double the size of the emergency department and add a new patient floor with 20 new rooms eliminating all semi-private rooms. Construction is expected to continue through fall 2013 as the project also adds technology upgrades and an exterior facelift for the building.
"I think we in HCA and the folks in Cartersville are very fortunate to have had Keith in his position for so many years now, and I think we're particularly fortunate that Keith's going to be around for some time yet as Cartersville prepares to expand significantly this fall with the project we'll be undertaking. Keith's leadership will see us through and he should continue to serve our company and the Cartersville community well into the future," Quinlivan said. "Keith is as well aware as anyone in the Cartersville community probably could be of the issues that Cartersville-Bartow County face, specifically, health-related issues, but also just economic issues, challenges of growth, education, employment. ... Keith has been there for 35 years so he has seen Cartersville grow, he's seen Bartow County grow and so Keith has seen that coming and is very much in touch with the challenges that are associated with it.
"There's just no way to shortcut that. There are certain things that come with experience and I think Bartow County and Cartersville Medical Center benefit from Keith Sandlin's experience."