Hughston Healthcare appoints CEO

Hughston Healthcare has appointed Mark A. Baker to the position of chief executive officer, officials announced Friday.

Hughston Healthcare is the Columbus-based umbrella organization that includes Hughston Clinic and Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital.

Baker, 40, was promoted from the position of chief operating officer at Hughston Clinic. He had served in that position since 2004. Baker had also been serving as interim CEO of Jack Hughston Memorial, formerly known as Summit Hospital, since February 2009.

Baker was chosen after clinic partners and hospital owners unanimously voted to promote him.

“Mark Baker has done a great job leading our company as COO and we decided to promote him to CEO of the entire organization,” said Dr. John Waldrop, orthopedic surgeon and Hughston Clinic president, in a statement. “We felt like it was very important to have a local CEO who understands our local community and all the markets that we serve.”

Officials established Hughston Healthcare in February 2009. Since then, there had been no official CEO leading the organization, though a “contract CEO,” Usman Mirza, would fly in once a week from San Antonio, Texas, to oversee operations.

Baker graduated from Smiths Station High School in 1987. In 1993, he earned a degree in physical therapy from the Medical College of Georgia.

He began his health care career as a physical therapist at Doctors Hospital. From 1995 to 2003, he served as director of rehabilitation at Hughston Hospital. He joined Hughston Clinic as director of ancillary services in 2003 and was promoted to COO the next year.

Baker became interim CEO of the 62-bed Jack Hughston Memorial after former CEO Jim Matney resigned. In February 2008, a group of Hughston Clinic doctors, including Waldrop, purchased the debt-stricken Phenix City hospital for $47.7 million. Matney was brought in shortly after from an Arizona hospital.

Baker said he was humbled and excited to head Hughston Healthcare.

“I feel humbled (the physicians) chose me to move forward and lead the organization,” Baker said. “It’s a great responsibility.”

Hughston Healthcare, which focuses on orthopedics, encompasses several organizations, which together employ 475 workers:

- Hughston Clinic and its eight satellite offices in Georgia and Alabama

- Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital- The Hughston Foundation, a nonprofit for medical research, education and training- Hughston Rehabilitation, a center for physical therapy, occupational therapy and industrial medicine- Hughston Health, a fitness and wellness center- Hughston Diagnostics, a center for MRI exams

Baker said he planned to work on building a unified culture at Hughston Clinic and Jack Hughston Memorial.

“As we have grown and added the hospital, there’s always kind of been two separate administrative staffs,” he said. “It’s important to me to make sure both organizations feel they’re one and understand they have the support structure they can rely on, no matter where they are in the organization.”