Local News

WakeMed CEO leaving after 'differences' with board

Posted September 26, 2013

— WakeMed Health & Hospitals announced Thursday that President and CEO Bill Atkinson has agreed to step down, citing "differences in the future direction of the organization."

Atkinson, who has been CEO since 2003, met with board leaders Wednesday night and agreed to leave before Oct. 1, the start of the hospital's new fiscal year. He was gone by Thursday.

"The WakeMed Board of Directors and Dr. Atkinson agree that the separation is in the best interest of both parties," WakeMed leaders said in a statement.

An interim CEO has not been named. Hospital leaders say they plan to conduct a national search for Atkinson's replacement.

His departure comes days before a key part of the Affordable Care Act is set to take effect. Sources familiar with the board's vote say factors that played a role in its decision include a federal investigation into fraudulent Medicaid billing practices, growing financial losses and a perceived inability to effectively communicate and listen.

In a statement, WakeMed board Chairman William McBride thanked Atkinson "for his years of tenure and leadership."

"As we move into the next phase of health care reform and the continued growth of this community and region, there are going to be new challenges and opportunities for WakeMed," McBride added. "The Board of Directors looks forward to welcoming a new leader to successfully guide us through this new era of health care."

WakeMed Atkinson supporters understand WakeMed change

Under Atkinson's leadership, WakeMed was the largest provider of indigent care in the area. He also oversaw about 8,500 employees.

Described by those who know him well as driven, outspoken, an ideas man and someone who strives for excellence, Atkinson was also known for having a strong personality.

Billie Redmond chaired the WakeMed board from 2009 to 2011 and was on the board that hired Atkinson as CEO in 2003. Since Atkinson began, the hospital has seen tremendous growth for the brand and system.

"I believe Dr. Atkinson delivered on that very well," Redmond said. "(The current board is) looking at the next generation of health care, and so, perhaps what they're looking for is a different set of strengths."


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  • joshuatree48 Oct 3, 2013

    Get rid of some of the clipboard toting department heads and some of those VP's.

  • joshuatree48 Oct 3, 2013

    I worked for wake for 17 years and was proud to be affiliated with this place. Bill outsourced my job in March and he was responsible for me going from over 20 bucks an hour to working for the outsourced company for slave wages. Working under the previous CEO, Ray Champ, was a pleasure. After this egomaniac was hired in his place, the hospital atmosphere was akin to working in North Korea. This man does not care about the employees nor the patients. He single-handle duly destroyed a fantastic place to work. I would see Ray Champ walking the floors all the time, yet never saw this tyrant ever out of his office in his ivory tower. He should be in jail in my opinion. Too bad the board did not see fit to get rid of this so called administrator until now. How about doing Wake county a favor board and DO YOUR HOMEWORK on the next CEO hired.

  • itoldyouso33 Oct 1, 2013

    A lot of good people lost their jobs four years ago, due to spending on his pet projects and adding a lot of VP's. It seemed an almost monthly event that another department was being created with another VP. Care for patients is done at the ground level, not in the ivory towers. WakeMed would do well to remember that. Everything that goes around comes around. The board needs to clean house with all the Cronies he brought with him from New Hanover.

  • NCNurse1 Sep 27, 2013

    I understand why his leaving is in the best interest of WakeMed, but why is it in his best interest? Did they catch him doing something else illegal, and are not turning him in? A lot of good people have lost their jobs at WakeMed while high salaried Vice President seemed to be added every month. Vice Presidents don't take care of you when you're sick. Time to do some more housecleaning, WakeMed!

  • soyousay Sep 27, 2013

    WakeMed "did well" on paper....oh and constantly raising prices, agressive collections, and ther practices that landed in front of a Judge. Wake Med prices are some of the highest in the state..just remember all his people are still in place

  • ssgiddy1 Sep 27, 2013

    In the past three years, WakeMed has performed well financially. The system posted operating income of $55 million, $33 million and $20 million in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. The 2012 figure represents almost a 5 percent operating margin. At the end of the 2012 fiscal year, WakeMed had $529 million of cash and short-term investments. Source TBJ

    WakeMed hired another VP, while laying off hundreds. Where is the $529 million, Dollar Bill? You got what was coming to you.

  • Hubris Sep 26, 2013

    "Firing 17 of the 27 Vice Presidents will save about 8.5 million in salary costs."

    Now all we have to do cut thousands of over paid suits at the EPA, HUD, DOE, NEA, and, oh yes, everyone's favorite, the IRS. That will have the country billions in one year alone.

  • scvmcdoc Sep 26, 2013

    jcs281 hit the nail on the head!!!!

  • soyousay Sep 26, 2013

    I suspect what finaly happened was that Wild Bill finaly shot both feet. His grandiose mouth and bullying have goten him in hot water over and over. Only one was the attack on Rex over losing Wake Heart, Mr. Champ had worked hard to build a relationship with Wake Heart and CV services at Wake and Bill destroyed it. They left because it was impossible to work anything with him or his team, not some buckets of money- they had and have plenty. Wild bill was histrionic over it and the Board toadied along with him while he humilated himself and Wake..and lost... And then he just about snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with his unbelievably self-serving comments over the medicare fraud issue until the Judge went ballistic and he fessed up. He went publically quiet for a while after that- of course working closely with his merry band to continue the demise of Wake' finances...untill his puzzling pop up about medicais- he is no one in the health care commnity's idea of a spokespers

  • Quagmire Sep 26, 2013

    Firing 17 of the 27 Vice Presidents will save about 8.5 million in salary costs.