Midlands health system headquarters, CEO to be based in Greenville after merger

Prisma Health, the company formed by the merger of Palmetto Health and Greenville Health Systems, will establish its corporate headquarters in Greenville.

Combined with the recent purchase of SCANA by Virginia-based Dominion Energy, the Prisma move means the capital city will have lost two of its biggest corporate headquarters.

In addition, Prisma Co-Chief Executives Charles D. Beaman Jr., the former CEO of Palmetto Health, and Michael C. Riordan, former CEO of Greenville Health System, will step down after a new CEO is named. Their contracts expire at the end of 2019.

Prisma Health has launched a national search for a new chief executive.

“We are committed to finding the right leader, just as we are committed to improving the health and well-being of people in the Midlands, the Upstate and, ultimately, the entire state,” James E. “Rick” Wheeler, vice president of M-D MetalSource and chairman of the Prisma Health Board of Directors said in a news release.

“With each step, we are coming closer to delivering on our promise to create a better state of health in South Carolina by improving clinical quality, the patient experience and access to care, and containing rising health care costs,” he said.

Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System merged in November 2017 to create the largest health system in South Carolina with 13 hospitals.

Prisma serves more than 1.2 million patients annually — or about one-quarter of the state’s population. The company has more than 30,000 employees.

It’s a bit of a blow to Columbia to be overlooked for the group’s headquarters, said Carl Blackstone, president and CEO of the Columbia Chamber.

But, he said, “I’m not surprised.”

“The positive side of this is it’s still a South Carolina company,” Blackstone said. “The overwhelming majority of caregivers are here in Columbia and are focused on the Midlands of South Carolina. ... Would we prefer to have (executive offices) here? Absolutely. But we’re not talking about but a handful of folks.”

Regional presidents and leadership teams for both the Midlands and Greenville markets will continue to live and work in their respective regions, Prisma officials said.

But the new systemwide “executive home office” will be located in Greenville, housing about 60 corporate leaders and related staff, including the new CEO, the news release said.

“It is not a traditional large corporate headquarters where all senior leaders, corporate functions and their teams are housed,” it said.

The corporate move is expected to take place this summer, it said.

“Bringing our senior corporate leaders together under one roof will help improve communication, collaboration and decision-making while supporting strategic growth and development,” Wheeler said in the release. “From a practical standpoint, it will help reduce travel time and expenses for meetings.”

Lynn Bailey, Columbia-based health care economist, called the move a good one.

She said the Greenville Health System was better managed and the culture in Greenville is more conducive to quicker, more effective decisions. The creation of a “super board” when Palmetto Health was formed made the organization top heavy, she said.

“Greenville has a functioning health care system,” she said. “We don’t have a functioning health care system. There are more chiefs than Indians. It’s a clown car. Greenville has brought them closer to reality.”

Beaman, a Columbia native, was president and chief executive of the Baptist Healthcare System for a decade before it merged with Richland Memorial Hospital to become the Palmetto Health system in 1998.

At that time, Beaman became the new health system’s founding president. In 2007, he assumed the CEO duties as well.

Beaman, 67, has worked in Midlands health care for 45 years.

He was named co-CEO with Riordan when Palmetto Health merged with Greenville Health System.

It is unclear what Beaman’s role with the company might be, if any.

“We expect, once the new CEO is named and on board, to be able to share more specifics about Chuck Beaman’s and Mike Riordan’s next steps,” Prisma spokeswoman Tammie Epps said.

The combined companies were expected to generate $3.9 billion in annual net revenue and become the largest private employer in South Carolina with more than 28,000 health care workers and 2,800 physicians.

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