With little public fanfare, Terry Akin took over Wednesday as CEO of one of the largest employers, Cone Health.
Filling the shoes of retiring CEO Tim Rice, the 50-year-old Akin has been working toward this moment for the better part of the year after Rice announced in February he would retire after 36 years with Cone.
Of course, this moment came a little sooner than either Rice or Akin had expected when the announcement was made earlier in the year. Rice initially planned to serve out the year as CEO before stepping aside.
But the progress the pair made with the transition and the confidence Rice has in his successor prompted them to move up that date to Oct. 1.
When I saw Akin earlier this week to discuss plans to close Women’s Hospital and build a new Behavioral Health Hospital in 2019, he said it was strange seeing Rice pack up his office and prepare to step aside.
So I wanted to circle back with Akin to see how the first day went. He was unavailable to talk by phone, but send along some thoughts about how the plunge into the new position went.
Here’s what he wrote:
“Driving into work it was exciting, a bit scary and surreal all at the same time. I was struck by the reality that I am now accountable for a large organization that provides such important care and services, and is going through such rapid change.
“But, Tim Rice left a strong legacy – we’re really in great shape and we have an amazing team. Rounding with staff and patients always grounds me in why we’re here, and afterwards I was in the perfect place and ready to go.
“I started the day rounding—talking with nurses and other staff who are really the essence of Cone Health. I also talked with patients at LeBauer HealthCare and Wesley Long Hospital.
“I always find it inspiring to connect with our people and those we care for.”