For the first time since fall 2017, Mercy Springfield Communities has a permanent leader in place.
The health care system hired Craig McCoy as president in January, and he’s since been getting acclimated to lead its 9,800 local employees in the Ozarks and manage its $5 billion in annual revenue.
The Greenville, South Carolina, native comes to Springfield with a decade of experience as a health care CEO. Now, he has oversight over much of Mercy’s southwest Missouri market – comprising hospitals in Springfield, Ozark, Lebanon, Aurora, Cassville and Mountain View, along with more than 300 clinics and outpatient facilities.
“It takes a while to learn that, but it’s an early process of getting up to speed of where things are and where the organization is headed,” he said.
McCoy started as president Jan. 6, succeeding Jon Swope, who served in the role on an interim basis since fall 2017 following the firing of Dr. Alan Scarrow. Swope was in charge of the Springfield-based system while maintaining his post as president of the larger Mercy Central Region. He also remains senior vice president at Mercy, which covers a four-state region.
Swope took over the role in 2017, amid patient safety infractions and a federal investigation, during which time Scarrow was removed from his nearly three-year stint as president. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services had threatened in 2017 to terminate Mercy Hospital Springfield’s Medicare agreement over allegations of patient abuse or neglect, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Scarrow remains working at Mercy as a neurosurgeon.
McCoy most recently worked as CEO of Bon Secours Mercy Health in South Carolina. Bon Secours merged in 2018 with Cincinnati, Ohio-based Mercy Health, and that deal spelled the end of his four-year run as CEO. As the 57,000-employee health systems merged, job redundancies identified led to most of the senior executives with Bon Secours taking early retirement packages to exit the company. By March 2019, McCoy was notified his job was being eliminated.
As part of his severance package, McCoy stayed on to help in the leadership transition before leaving near the end of April.
“I had worked for the combined company for nine months, so I wasn’t expecting it,” he said of losing his job.
Turning the page
After leaving Bon Secours, McCoy said he intentionally took some time off to spend with his wife Pam and their two children. By the end of summer, his job search began in earnest, eventually leading to an October connection with Mercy Springfield Communities.
He accepted the job Nov. 29 after a roughly seven-week process involving a trio of meetings with Mercy leadership in St. Louis and Springfield.
“That was the thing that was very clear about Mercy. It wasn’t just the job; it’s the culture of the company and the mission of the company,” he said of taking the position.
Prior to Bon Secours, McCoy worked as CEO at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Emory Johns Creek Hospital in Georgia, and Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix. He started his medical career as a paramedic in Greenville in 1994.
“Health care is what I love and it’s what I’m passionate about,” he said.
In Springfield, McCoy said he’s been familiarizing himself with the health care system’s large staff to learn everyone’s roles. He’s also starting to study operational components and community needs for medical services.
“The nice thing is coming in, you get to look at it through a fresh set of eyes,” he said, adding he’s also starting to check off his long list of Mercy facilities he intends to visit in the first few months.
McCoy said he hasn’t started setting goals yet.
“The 90- to 120-day mark is when I’ll start setting those, once I have a better understanding of the lay of things,” he said.
In regards to challenges ahead, McCoy said a lot of the same ones are shared by health care in general – pointing to managing pharmaceutical drug costs, provider and nursing talent shortages, and the cost of technology in patient care.
“With technology where it is, there are many more things being identified and people are living longer,” he said. “The longer people live, the more they consume on the health care aspect.”
Swope said via email the president search took about a year, with McCoy among six candidates interviewed.
“I live in Springfield and primarily work from here, so it made sense for me to oversee the care we provide within (Mercy) Springfield Communities,” Swope said via email. “Because we have an exceptional local team, we had plenty of time to recruit the right person for this position.”
At Mercy, Swope is McCoy’s immediate supervisor, while Mercy Hospital Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Brent Hubbard reports to McCoy, said spokeswoman Sonya Kullmann.
McCoy’s arrival isn’t the only high-ranking executive change in recent months for the health care system.
In October 2019, Dr. Robert Cavagnol, president of Mercy Clinic Springfield, exited Mercy. He and Mercy officials declined to disclose why he departed. Justin Davison, vice president of finance, left a month later after accepting a chief financial officer job at St. Francis Healthcare in Cape Girardeau, according to past SBJ reporting. Rob Heen, Mercy Clinic chief operating officer, was placed in charge of clinic operations.
Kullmann said no hiring decisions have been made regarding the vacated positions.
McCoy arrives at a time the health care system is investing in new facilities.
In September, a $27 million multispecialty clinic opened in Bolivar, followed the next month by a $5.8 million family medicine clinic on West Republic Road in Springfield. The clinics are part of some $150 million in southwest Missouri capital projects Mercy reported it was working on last year.
Other projects include the $80 million Mercy Heart Hospital Springfield project on South National Avenue and a $7.5 million emergency room expansion specifically designed for children.
Kullmann said the new hospital project is aiming for completion this fall, while the ER expansion should open in early 2021.
“It’s a matter of continuing to grow our existing services that are here,” McCoy said of the health system’s investment. “It’s a growing and aging population, so access to primary care is key.”
Web Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
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