Memorial Case Study





Situation Analysis


Memorial Hospital in Gulfport Mississippi retained The PACE Group for an executive healthcare search. This multi-specialty medical center located on the Gulf Coast was seeking an experienced Vice President of Medical Affairs.


The Vice President of Medical Affairs (M.D.) provides direction and guidance through the communication of goals and the promotion of the Hospital’s vision.  This position is responsible for integrating plans and actions by fostering cooperative relationships between the Medical Staff, departments, service lines, and Hospital Administration. The ideal candidate was a successful clinician with executive experience and interpersonal skills that would have a lasting impact on medical staff relations.


Memorial Hospital At Gulfport, Mississippi

Memorial Hospital is a multi-specialty medical center, supporting a comprehensive range of health and wellness services. The Harrison County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution establishing Memorial Hospital at Gulfport on July 18, 1946. Memorial, a not-for-profit organization, is one of the most comprehensive medical facilities in Mississippi. Owned by the city of Gulfport and Harrison County, the hospital provide medical, surgical, and emergency services, as well as diagnostic imaging, comprehensive cancer care, rehabilitation programs, and cardiac care. The hospital also operates walk-in clinics for minor injuries and illnesses.


Memorial Hospital is a modern facility with more than 400 beds, offering the most advanced technology and services available on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Their healthcare professionals remain in the forefront of modern healing with a medical staff comprised of nearly 300 physicians representing more than 40 medical specialties.


A hospital with a well-established reputation, Memorial remains dedicated to excellence in advanced healthcare. Memorial Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and is a member of the American Hospital Association and the Voluntary Hospitals of America, Inc. (VHA).


Gulfport, Mississippi

Gulfport is located on the Gulf of Mexico almost halfway between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, with a land area of 62.37 square miles and a population in excess of 70,000. With its beautiful sand beaches, challenging year-round golfing, excellent fresh and saltwater fishing, historic attractions, family attractions, abundant shopping opportunities, excellent restaurants, high quality hotel rooms and exciting Las Vegas style casinos it is no surprise it is the second largest city in Mississippi.


However, Hurricane Katrina struck Gulfport at the very end of this search. PACE and Memorial were faced with the difficult task of closing this search and convincing the selected candidate to move to the area just a few weeks after the hurricane.

Outline Of PACE Process


The PACE Group aggressively and professionally searched for the best VPMA candidate who would consider moving to the coast. Conducting a national search is often challenging. Most successful professionals are happy and do not like change or want to relocate.


PACE contacted approximately 100 individuals, including personal calls and visits to hospitals to speak with potential candidates and healthcare executives.  PACE sent 20 mailings, and over 45 emails, all followed up with phone calls, to contacts and potential candidates gathered from the PACE proprietary database, healthcare contacts (CEO’s and hospital associations), and contacts in the graduate education arena. PACE posted the VPMA position on several healthcare sites focusing on attracting physician executives (ex. ACPE) and on the PACE website. In addition, an ad was placed in a leading healthcare magazine, an Advance publication targeting healthcare IT professionals.


50  Approximately 50 resumes, emails, and letters of interest were received by PACE.


21  Potential Candidates (expressed initial interest and had required experience – approximately 29 were eliminated due to experience, characteristic requests from MHG, or expressed lack of interest in Gulfport).


16 Remained after further scrutiny of previous experience – PACE reviewed resumes internally and with healthcare contacts for additional opinions.  PACE set up preliminary interest calls (PICs) with these professionals to gain a better feel for their personality, experience, and interest.


10  Remained – 4 candidates withdrew from the search due to the location. 2 were eliminated due to the caliber of remaining candidates.


      4   Interviewed via conference call – interviewed 1 of the 4 twice.


      6   Interviewed face to face.


5   Presented to MHG as the top candidates from an executive national search.


  Candidates selected for site visits.

Keys to This Successful Search


1. Strong Committed Leadership – Both Private and Public.

The Memorial executive search committee was made up of the senior level hospital executives. They were clear with their desires and carefully evaluated each candidate. Each leader gave a great first impression and played a substantial part in the site visits. Each candidate had fantastic things to say about the area and staff after their initial interview. Gary Marchand, CEO, worked closely with PACE to sell the candidates and create desirable interview schedules and site visits.


2. Buy-In From the Medical Staff.

Memorial included the medical staff to play a vital role in the interview and evaluation process. Mr. Marchand worked closely with leaders of the medical staff to ensure they had a part in the process and felt good about the selected candidate.


3. Selected Candidate Sold on the Area.

The leading candidate was sold on the area by PACE and Memorial. The Hurricane had a substantial impact on her feelings. However, due to the strong bond formed with the Memorial staff, she remained interested and was eager to help. Memorial maintained communication after the hurricane and made sure all parties were informed of the hospital and community’s state. PACE also worked hard to keep communication lines open, address concerns, and find answers in a professional and respectful manner.


Current Chairman of the Memorial Hospital Board
Having worked with the Pace Group on several occasions I had no doubt they were the professional team needed for the VPMA search.  They keep the client informed and updated on their progress.  They have always provided just the right person for the position to be filled.  They are dedicated, professional, and provide very qualified candidates.  Dr. Downs is a perfect fit for us and we are pleased to have her on our team.

– Mrs. Myrtis Franke


Vice President of Medical Affairs, Memorial Hospital


Going through a search process is a very stressful process. The PACE Group really knows how to take the pressure off and were wonderful to work with. I believe they saw far earlier than I did what a great fit Memorial hospital and it’s people were for me.  After Hurricane Katrina many of the people I am now working with wondered why in the world I would still be joining the Memorial staff.  The truth is, I accepted the position because I saw a wonderful community–don’t know how many times I heard people say “I love living here” and even more I saw a great administrative team and a very dedicated staff.  In the end, it was the people of Memorial that made we want to come even in the face of the devastation.

– Dr. Nancy Downs