James Pickle, president and chief executive officer of Erlanger Medical Center, Chattanooga, Tenn.'s 586-bed county hospital, has resigned to accept a top position with Columbia Healthcare Corp. in Louisville, Ky.
Mr. Pickle's resignation is effective Feb. 28. He'll start his new job as president of Columbia's Kentucky division on March 1.
"This is a personal decision on my part and unconnected to other things going on at Erlanger," Mr. Pickle told MODERN HEALTHCARE.
The "other things" include a restructuring program that began last year at Erlanger and that already has claimed 200 of the hospital's 3,500 positions. Between 300 and 700 more jobs may be eliminated by April. Mr. Pickle's Jan. 20 announcement coincided with the elimination of three of the hospital's 11 vice president positions.
Also, the state's new managed-competition-style TennCare program, which replaced the state's traditional Medicaid program on Jan. 1, now forces Erlanger to compete for Medicaid recipients rather than serving as the designated Medicaid hospital.
Mr. Pickle estimated that Erlanger's Medicaid patient base may drop to 15% of total admissions under TennCare from about 30% in past years. The hospital has been highly profitable, but Mr. Pickle acknowledged that likely will change.
At Columbia, Mr. Pickle, 50, will oversee the chain's hospital operations in Kentucky, which will include seven facilities after Columbia's merger with Hospital Corporation of America.