Harry Nurkin, the hospital executive who turned a sleepy public hospital in Charlotte, N.C., into a regional giant, has died two months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to a blog post by his wife. Nurkin was 67, according to his obituary.
Hospital exec Nurkin dies at 67
Nurkin took charge of what was then a four-hospital system known as Charlotte-Mecklenburg (County) Hospital Authority in 1981. Over the two decades till his retirement in September 2002, Nurkin expanded the renamed Carolinas HealthCare System into one of the dominant players in North and South Carolina, with 12 hospitals owned or leased in North Carolina and another 11 hospitals managed by contract across the two states.
A Carolinas statement on Nurkin's death reads in part: “During his tenure he led us in the creation of the vision that helped develop Carolinas HealthCare System into the organization that it is today and it is on that foundation which we have continued to enhance our vision and direction. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
“He was a genius, as a hospital manager and administrator,” independent healthcare consultant George Stiles said in an interviewthis year. In the 1970s, when Stiles first came on a visiting basis to the city, “Charlotte Memorial was worse than second rate. There were long lines of indigent people sitting and waiting forever in clinics. Nurkin turned all that around.”
When Nurkin announced his retirement in 2002, Don Dalton, then as now a spokesman for the North Carolina Hospital Association, said, “Twenty years ago, (he) came to an institution that was the last resort for healthcare for many in his community. He managed to not only keep it available and expand what it offered to the less fortunate of the community, but also make it the first choice for many in what is a very competitive market in Charlotte.”
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