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Seven vie for CEO position

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's community hospital system may have a new CEO by March.

The field of candidates to replace departed chief executive Frank Rinker is narrowed to seven, said Wayne Sikes, chairman of the Gwinnett Health System Inc.'s board of directors. The system is a nonprofit that oversees operations of Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville and Joan Glancy Memorial in Duluth.

Sikes would not identify the finalists, citing the need to maintain confidentiality. They are all chief executives at other hospitals across the United States.

"I know a lot of them are excited about the opportunity to come here," Sikes said. "We're a growing hospital, in a great demographic, with plenty of businesses and lots of fine doctors."

Tom Karr is the nonprofit's interim CEO. He stepped in shortly after Rinker was stripped of his title in May.

Rinker was fired after he and the Gwinnett Health System Inc. board of directors could not work out the details of his retirement. He spent 20 years with the nonprofit community hospital system and led an expansion of health care services to meet Gwinnett's rapid population growth.

That expansion continues.

The nonprofit is working out the final details for an addition to Gwinnett Medical Center that would house up to 100 more patients a day, Sikes said.

Plans for the new patient tower are on schedule to be submitted by early February.

The system is still seeking financial assistance from Gwinnett County to help pay for building projects. Earlier this year, a study group recommended the county government help the hospital system through a variety of options, including backing bonds.

County officials are still considering their choices.

Whatever the outcome, financing the hospital's growth will pose challenges for the next CEO.

"Frankly, if the county does not lend us the credit, we will accomplish what we need to do - just a bit slower," Sikes said.