When Dr. Matt Gibson started heading Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation on Jan. 30, he didn't have to go far from his prior post. Gibson had been a senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Erlanger just next door.
"I know the reputation that Siskin has for quality care," Gibson says.
But the Siskin president and chief executive officer says there was a personal reason he was interested in the job. One of his best friends in high school had an auto accident a week after graduation and was paralyzed from the chest down, he says.
"It was such an upsetting experience," Gibson says, adding that his friend became highly functional. "It was such a formative experience."
Gibson, 42, came to Chattanooga in 2017 after working at a New Orleans hospital as its executive vice president of business development and chief strategy officer, and having more than a decade of health care experience.
As a student, the Mobile, Alabama, native had an interest in health care administration and obtained degrees from Auburn University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
"Early on I got hooked on pursuing a career in health care leadership," Gibson says.
At Erlanger, he guided and shaped the strategy for the health system, working with physicians and other executive leadership, he says.
"What does the organization need to focus on in the near term and longer term? It's making sure we're delivering quality care and we have the right strategy," Gibson says.
Siskin contacted him in 2019 with CEO Carol Sim's plan to retire in early 2020.
"They've had a rich legacy of transformative care," Gibson says. "People learning to walk, to talk, swallow again, drive a car, fold clothes — things you and I take for granted."
* Job: President and CEO of Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation
* Born: Mobile, Alabama
* Age: 42
* Education: Auburn University; a master of business administration and a master in health administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Ph.D. from University of Mississippi Medical Center
* Work: 15 years in health care administration; former chief strategy officer at Erlanger
* Personal: Married, two children
With 540 employees, Siskin has its main campus near Erlanger and two busy off-site outpatient clinics with plans for a third in Hixson at Northgate Mall, he says.
"We want to be closer to where people live," Gibson says.
The coronavirus has introduced new challenges, but Gibson says he's proud of the staff who've worked through dramatic changes since mid-March when the pandemic hit.
"We've asked so much of our associates," Gibson says. "They've been consummate professionals."
Also, the hospital is looking at how to enable more access to Siskin's transformative care.
"We're the largest rehabilitative hospital in the state," Gibson says. "It's a real gem for Chattanooga. We have excellent physicians. We've had continuity with the group here for years and years and years."