The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 24, 2010

Bowling stepping down as RGH CEO

Karen Bowling, who presided over Raleigh General Hospital’s historic addition of angioplasty services, is leaving as chief executive officer as of Dec. 15, the hospital’s parent company announced Tuesday.

Robert Klein, president of the United Division of LifePoint Hospitals, with which Raleigh General is affiliated, said the company would launch a nationwide to find a successor.

Without elaborating in a statement, Bowling said she decided to leave the hospital for personal reasons and gave no indication about a possible new move in her career.

“I’ve had a wonderful 15 years at Raleigh General Hospital and am proud of the many accomplishments our team has made to improve access to health care in our community,” she said.

“I want to thank every employee, volunteer and member of our medical staff for their support over the years.”

Bowling has served the hospital as its CEO since 2002.

In a statement, Klein said, “We are working with the board of trustees to initiate a national search to find qualified candidates to consider for this important position.

“We appreciate the many valuable contributions Karen has made to the hospital and community, and we wish her the best in future endeavors.”

Only last month, Bowling and then-Gov. Joe Manchin observed the first anniversary of Raleigh General’s success in gaining approval of an angioplasty center.

Before the green light switched on, Raleigh General faced an uphill struggle in getting the service, since prevailing rules at the time insisted that any patient living within an hour of an approved cardiac treatment facility was obligated to seek medical help from that hospital.

Under that standard, that meant area residents were compelled to go to Charleston, and potential traffic delays in reality put them more than an hour away.

Manchin backed Raleigh General’s stance that such a rule must consider all transport time and worked with the state Health Care Authority to effect a change.

“We know from the letters we get and from our patients that we have saved so many lives,” Bowling said at the observance.

Praise came in the Bowling announcement from Jack Phillips, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, who added, “I am confident we will find the right person to lead the hospital in the future.”

Some 13,000 surgeries are performed annually at Raleigh General, and the Women’s and Children’s Center delivers more than 1,600 newborns each year. The facility has been an integral part of the medical community of southern West Virginia since 1921.

Based in Brentwood, Tenn., LifePoint operates 52 hospitals in 17 states, two of them in West Virginia.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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