Scherneck retires as CEO after nearly two decades with the healthcare system

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January 10—Michael D. Scherneck reflects on the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and feels grateful that he made no bets on how long the virus would continue its global spread.

“I would have bet by September 2020 that would have been behind us,” he said.

From his seat as president and CEO of the Southeast Georgia Health System, however, Scherneck has experienced the past two years’ ups and downs, from the spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. the deployment of vaccines that can bring an end to the pandemic.

Scherneck officially retired on Friday, knowing that there is still a lot of work to be done in this community to combat COVID-19. He is optimistic, however, that the end of the pandemic is near and that the local health system will continue to play a central role in caring for this community until then.

“We’re here to take care of the community, and when I say this community, I mean the entire southeast Georgia area,” he said. “It’s our community.”

Scherneck joined the healthcare system in 2003 as chief financial officer. In 2015, the system’s board of directors asked Scherneck to serve as interim CEO and later selected him to take on that role permanently.

“I never imagined that I would have been in this kind of role, but it was really a great opportunity for me, just a great experience for me personally and frankly a great way for me to end my career,” said he mentioned.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Scherneck was used to a much larger community served by numerous hospitals. The Southeast Georgia Health System, meanwhile, serves an area that stretches 60 miles north of the Florida border and 30 miles inland from the Georgian coast, it said. -he declares.

“Here we are the hospital,” he said. “Here in Brunswick, we are the hospital, in Camden, and we have the opportunity to be friends and family by taking care of friends and family.”

It also gives the healthcare system a duty to serve patients from all walks of life, he said. And this service must be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’re the only providers here, and people are going to show up at our health system and on our doorstep because we’re the only community hospitals here,” he said.

Scherneck has witnessed for nearly two decades the significant growth of the healthcare system, which now includes approximately 175 providers. The health system plays an important recruiting role and helps attract more health professionals to the region, he said.

This is essential, because the health system serves a wide range of patients.

“We have to make sure that if somebody doesn’t have insurance, we have to be there,” Scherneck said. “Someone got Medicaid, we have to be there. If it’s someone who has great insurance, we have to be there.

“We’re here for everyone, whether they live in Brunswick, St. Simons, Sea Island, along the I-95 corridor. We have to be there.”

Scherneck’s time as CEO has not been without challenges. He led the healthcare system through three major hurricane threats as well as the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020.

From treatment to testing to vaccine deployment, the health system has been central to the community’s response to COVID-19. Scherneck said he is proud of how each health system staff member has lived up to this responsibility.

“In the healthcare system, probably 75% or more of our lives are consumed with COVID, and I’m glad we’re here to be able to support the community,” he said.

Scherneck said his focus from the start was on what he calls “the fundamentals,” which are the tools that will bring the pandemic under control.

“Vaccines are helpful, I think masks are helpful, I think social distancing is helpful,” he said.

The mental anguish, however, caused by the pandemic cannot be underestimated, he said, and healthcare workers have borne much of that burden.

Scherneck also witnessed the highlights, like when the vaccine rollout began and health system workers were on the front lines bringing vaccines to the community.

“You could tell they knew they were making a difference, and it showed in the way they treated people,” he said. “We have done over 50,000 vaccinations.”

But any idea that COVID-19 will ever disappear completely is overly optimistic. It is here to stay, in one form or another, and the question that remains is how long the virus will continue to fuel a pandemic.

“It’s going to be with us forever, and the question is how do we go from pandemic to endemic,” he said. “And I think we’re getting closer and closer to that.”

Scott Raynes will succeed Scherneck and begin his role as CEO and Chairman today.

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