Russell Judd, CEO of Payson Regional Medical Center for four years, has been transferred by PRMC's owner, Community Health Systems, to manage a larger facility in Berwick, Pa.
In the meantime, an interim CEO, Jim Sato, will take over the hospital's management until a successor is found and recruited, Judd said Monday.
"The offer came from out of the blue," Judd said. "That hospital became available, and I was contacted to determine if I was interested. I looked at all the options and felt that it was a good opportunity for me professionally, and that it would be a good community for my family."
Judd's intention, he added, had been "to stay in Payson forever. But this was presented in a way that it seemed to be the best for me and my family."
Judd will leave town right before his start date of Sept. 9 at the Berwick Hospital Center, and his family wife, Shawna, and children, Allison, 12, Benjamin, 10, Emily, 8, Haley, 3, and Hannah, 1 will leave two or three weeks after that, he said.
Berwick has a population of about 25,000, Judd said, but the Berwick Hospital Center serves all of Columbia County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania with about 100,000 people.
The facility houses a 144-bed acute care hospital (compared to PRMC's 66 beds), a 240-bed nursing home, and home health and hospice agencies.
Berwick and PRMC are two of 59 hospitals that the Tennessee-based Community Health Systems operates in 20 states.
Since his family came to Payson from Barstow, Calif., in October of 1998, PRMC has grown in a number of ways which make him proud.
At the top of that list, Judd said, is "the focus that the entire hospital has placed on good, quality care and customer service. I think that the hospital (staff) has really taken it upon themselves to make sure that everybody that comes through the door gets treated with kindness, respect and the best quality care that can be delivered."
Second, he said, would be the recruitment of 22 physicians who "have added to and built upon a great foundation to making the care provided to the community that much better.
"And third, I think, would be the growth that the hospital has had. As an example, when I got here we were having about 150 surgeries a month; now we average about 420."
What Judd will miss most about Payson, he said, is the people.
"We've been here four years, and yet we feel like we've been in this community our entire lives," he said. "We've made great friends, we have great neighbors, a great church. Payson is the place where the people are the best. And of course we'll miss the climate because we'll be enduring those Pennsylvania winters."
"It's a shame to see him go," Pat Willis, chairman of the PRMC board of trustees, said. "He's been a benefit for the hospital. He brought us a long way in the time that he's been here in terms of improving the quality of staff, the quality of the facility, and the quality of health care for Payson and the surrounding communities.
"But while it's sad to see him go because he's done such a good job, you know how it is: when people do good things, good things happen to them."