The newly-named CEO of Georgia’s second-largest hospital doesn’t fit the stereotype of a healthcare executive.
“I’m a clinical nurse specialist by background in cardiovascular,” said Filipino-born Ninfa Saunders, who will take the helm at Central Georgia Health System and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in October.
It's uncommon for nurses to reach the CEO-ranks of healthcare, though Saunders said she’s not sure that has anything to do with the nursing profession itself.
“Traditionally nursing is dominated by women," Saunders said. "When you look at the top executives across the United States in healthcare, there’s only less than 10 percent who are women.”
Saunders is vacating the position of Chief Operating Officer for Virtua, a multi-hospital system in New Jersey.
She calls her new job a homecoming – Saunders lived in Georgia for 23 years working at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, as well as earning an Emory MBA.
Saunders also holds a doctorate in healthcare administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.
She takes the reigns at one of Middle Georgia’s largest employers from retiring CEO Don Faulk, who has worked for 39 years in the hospital where he was born.
Saunders praised the fiscal and organizational legacy of Faulk's 15 years in the top job.
"This medical center is very-well poised to meet the tortuous landscape of healthcare that’s upon us," Saunders said. "I think a lot of preparedness has been done."