Brian Cunningham today was named Gila Regional Medical Center interim chief executive officer, upon the resignation of CEO Brian Bentley.

"I started my healthcare career as a parking lot attendant at a large hospital in Philadelphia over 30 years ago," Cunningham said. "Since then, I have put myself through school on three different occasions, earning two separate clinical degrees in nuclear medicine technology and occupational therapy and master's degree in business administration with a concentration in healthcare administration.

He comes to the position with the MBA from American Intercontinental University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Cunningham has served in leadership positions since his arrival at GRMC in 2002.

At GRMC, Cunningham in 2010 was chosen as the present succession candidate to the CEO. He most recently has been in charge of the operational restructuring cost reduction program. He has been strategically and operationally responsible for the following departments: inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, operations, employee and community wellness center, staff education, health reach, maintenance, housekeeping, laundry dietary and Planetree.

From 2010 to the present he has served as GRMC assistant vice president of operations, and over the years has attend American College of Healthcare Executives-sponsored courses. He is scheduled to sit for the Fellowship Boards in September. Courses he has completed include healthcare strategic planning; achieving on-time, on-budget projects; aggressively improving cost, quality and throughput; using financial metrics as a road map to hospital success and numerous others.

"Having had many years of real working experience with the people and the issues at every level of a healthcare organization has placed me in the somewhat unique position in healthcare leadership of being able to genuinely relate to and understand the challenges we now face as caregivers and as an organization," Cunningham said.

"I have also been very fortunate along my career to have been able to work with many committed and talented people and to study under several exceptional leaders and mentors," he continued. "These leaders have helped me to understand and to experience the real value and responsibility of leadership."

In his résumé presented to the board of trustees, Cunningham said his "leadership commitments include a dedication to life-long learning and growth, and a deep commitment to helping others to learn and grow, as I believe that people are the most important asset in any organization."

He continued by saying his leadership approach is grounded in the concept of "Service Excellence" and that he is committed to and believes he is well prepared for the opportunity of working with GRMC's board of trustees, and involving the caregivers, physicians and community in a collective effort to help the organization achieve its mission and vision, despite the changes facing the healthcare industry.

Cunningham also participates in the Rotary Club of Silver City and is an advisory board member of Western New Mexico University's School of Business and Southwest New Mexico Leadership Program.

He and his wife and son moved from New Jersey in 1996. His first job at GRMC was as director of rehabilitation, and "since then, I have fully committed myself to our organization and our community by daily giving my best effort in service excellence."

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The Grant County Beat continues to bring you new columnists. New this past week are the Christian Corner, for those who are already Christians or are exploring the beliefs.

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The Beat has a new column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

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