May stepping away from role as CEO of Merit Health Natchez

Published 12:10 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

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NATCHEZ — A new CEO is expected to lead at Merit Health Natchez Hospital.

Tracy Byers will be taking the helm of the hospital later this month as interim CEO until a new permanent executive leader is hired, said Merit Health Marketing Director Kay Ketchings.

Outgoing CEO Garett May said he would be taking on another role as COO at Crestwood Medical Center, another hospital within the parent company Community Health Systems in Huntsville, Alabama.  His last day in Natchez is April 7, Ketchings said.

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“We appreciate Garett for his leadership and wish him much success as he moves forward,” she said. “A search to identify a new leader is underway and will engage members of the board of trustees, medical staff and administration.  Seasoned hospital executive Tracy Byers will serve as interim CEO until a new, permanent executive leader is identified.”

May has been the CEO at Merit Health since Aug. 2021, leading through the arch of the COVID-19 pandemic. He succeeds Lance Boyd who parted from the hospital for a new opportunity in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore area in April 2021 after serving three years as CEO at Merit.

May, a Mississippi native, arrived in Natchez with 10 years of executive leadership experience at other Merit Health facilities in the state. Before coming to Natchez, he was the chief operating officer at Merit Health River Oaks in Flowood.

Along with the announcement of his upcoming departure, May proudly shared updates from his past year of service at the hospital and vision for 2023 with attendees of a Friday Forum at Natchez Coffee Co.

He started with how many patients the hospital reached.

In 2022, Merit Health saw approximately 19,600 emergency room patients, 2,900 in-patients, 600 live births, 2,500 surgeries and 65,000 out-patients, May said.

May proudly shared how the hospital was graded on the nation-wide Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services scale.

“We were able to be graded a B again this year,” he said, adding to compare that with regional data, “We’re right up there with those big facilities (in Jackson and Baton Rouge). … We may not have all of the specialists these other facilities have but with what we do have we do well.”

In 2022 alone, May said the hospital has made a total investment of $66.7 million in the Miss-Lou that includes $600,000 into the hospital’s equipment and facilities, $3.1 million in taxes paid, $30.3 million in payroll, $24.3 million in charity and uncompensated care for patients and $25,000 in local donations and contributions.

The hospital employs roughly 334 full-time employees, he said.

May added Merit Health also aims to expand offerings in Louisiana with a community healthcare center in Vidalia and hire staff licensed to practice in both states as well as bring in specialists “across the spectrum.”

Meanwhile, there has been a big push for overall patient satisfaction in 2022 that continues in 2023, May said.

“No one wants to be at the hospital,” May said, “We’re really trying to shift the mindset toward not just how we care for the body but how we care for the patients as a whole and provide that family support system.”