Hugh Greene announced Wednesday his retirement from Baptist Health of Northeast Florida.
Greene, 65, joined the organization in 1989 as chief operating officer and has served for the past 18 years as president and CEO.
“It has been a time of remarkable expansion and growth to meet the needs of the community,” Greene said Wednesday.
He said it would be impossible be most proud of just one of Baptist Health’s accomplishments that occurred during his time leading the organization.
Greene cited Wolfson Children’s Hospital becoming nationally recognized and the second-largest pediatric hospital in Florida, the growth of Baptist’s primary and emergency care facilities throughout Northeast Florida and the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center as benchmarks in the past 20 years.
“There are a couple where I had a particular personal commitment,” he said. “We are a leader in mental health care for children, adolescents and adults. And the Baptist AgeWell Institute that provides care for the chronically ill elderly — that was an idea of mine.”
Greene served for several years on the board of directors for JAX Chamber and as its chair in 2011. He was chair of the chamber’s business recruitment division, JAXUSA Partnership, in 2007.
“Hugh is a leader,” said JAX Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis. “The value Baptist Health brings to this community is immeasurable. Since Hugh has been here, Baptist Health has created thousands of jobs and saved thousands of lives.”
Baptist Health is the largest private employer in the region, with 10,500 workers, according to the JAXUSA Partnership.
Greene was inducted into the First Coast Business Hall of Fame in 2007 and was recipient of the 2012 Humanitarian Award by OneJax and the 2013 Distinguished Business Leader Award by the University of North Florida’s Coggin College of Business.
Former Jacksonville Mayor and retired UNF President John Delaney said Greene was selected for the award for several reasons.
“Hugh is a heck of a businessman. Baptist Hospital makes money and they do a lot of charity care,” Delaney said.
“But it’s not just the way a CEO runs a company, it’s about what they do for the community.”
“Hugh Greene has been a tremendous force behind many of Baptist Health’s innovative programs and initiatives developed to advance health services and resources in Jacksonville,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “His leadership in securing the MD Anderson partnership, generous philanthropic endeavors and establishment of pioneering healthcare solutions demonstrate his commitment to the well-being of our citizens and contribute to Jacksonville’s growing reputation as a frontrunner in the health and life sciences sector. I thank him for his hard work and dedication to our city, and wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Greene said he realizes that he would be considered by his peers in the industry an “outlier” by virtue of serving as the CEO of a major metropolitan hospital for more than just a few years.
He credits his professional longevity, in part, to the fundamental business structure of the health care provider.
“We are a locally governed, community-focused organization. The board is made up of community leaders who are willing to make major investments to respond to the needs of the community,” Greene said.
He said while pondering his retirement decision, two words kept coming back to him.
“The first is gratitude for the opportunity — I consider it a sacred privilege — to work with the board and the team.
“The second is confidence – in the future of Baptist Health as it continues to grow,” Greene said.
He will remain as chief executive until a new CEO is selected in 2019.
“I still love what I do, but I think it’s the right time for a transition,” Greene said.
The Baptist Health board of directors will conduct a nationwide search for Greene’s successor.
“Baptist has thrived under Hugh’s leadership and to be honest, we wish he would remain CEO for the next 20 years,” said Baptist Health Board Chairman Richard Sisisky in a news release.
“But since that’s not possible, we have the next-best scenario, which is a flexible retirement date, allowing us ample time to conduct a thorough search to ensure an excellent fit and smooth transition of leadership.”