After six years at the helm of CHI Memorial Health Systems, CEO Jim Hobson has announced his resignation.

Hobson will leave July 12, at which point "he will make the next step in his health care vocation," said Lisa McCluskey, Memorial vice president of marketing communications.

That next step was not immediately clear late Thursday. Board Chairman Charles Arant said the regional vice president for Catholic Health Initiatives, which owns Memorial, relayed Hobson's decision at a board meeting Wednesday. He said Hobson's reasons were not disclosed.

some text
Jim Hobson

"I got the impression that he is just ready to move on, to do something different," said Arant. "I think it was a tough decision, because he's very committed to this community. I hate to see him go. We all hate to see him go. But you have to respect someone's decision."

McCluskey hopes for a "seamless transition" to new leadership.

Hobson's six years with Memorial have spanned the recession, a massive upheaval in the health care industry under the Affordable Care Act, and a $318 million multi-phase expansion of the system's Chattanooga and Hixson campuses. He also cast a vision for the hospital's planned Ooltewah campus, Arant said.

"Jim has been there to bring us through all of these major changes," said Arant.

In 2013, Memorial appointed Hobson as CEO of the health system -- a more visionary and advocacy-focused role. New president positions were created to oversee hospital operations, with Ricky D. Napper named president of the Chattanooga campus and Debra Moore as president of the Hixson campus.

As of that year, Hobson made an annual salary of $644,738, along with $81,614 in additional compensation, according to tax forms filed by Memorial, a nonprofit health system.

After Hobson's departure, Napper, who is senior vice president and chief operating officer of the system, will continue his role as hospital president, but will take on "expanded leadership responsibilities" along with Dr. Kevin Lewis, the chief medical officer.

The hospital will hire a national executive search firm, Arant said.

"We will move forward as quickly and aggressively as possible," said Arant. "Memorial is a community asset. We have got to make sure we get the best person possible in there to run it."

Contact staff writer Kate Belz at kbelz@timesfreepress.comor 423-757-6673.