Key hospital official leaving
Marketing VP moving back home

LAWRENCEVILLE - John Riddle, who was instrumental in conceptualizing Gwinnett Medical Center's half-billion dollar expansion, is leaving the hospital to lead the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and industrial development authority in his hometown of Jesup, he announced to staff today.

Riddle served 11 years as the hospital's vice president of marketing and development. He also served as executive director of the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation, the main fundraising arm of the growing facility.

His resignation is effective April 4.

Riddle, 42, said the decision was on based on the desire for his children to "enjoy the benefits of a family network" near their grandparents in a slower-paced setting in southeast Georgia. He and his wife Connie have three boys, ages 6, 9 and 12.

"This is a decision of the heart," he said. "It certainly doesn't make economic sense, but those things I have followed for a long time. Life needs to be balanced and it's hard to strike that balance and you have to be willing to sacrifice for it."

Riddle is credited with the creation of Project PATH, a strategic plan rolled out in 2006 that serves as the road map for the hospital's $428 million capital expansion project. Notable projects under this initiative include the opening of GMC-Duluth in October 2006 and the beginning of construction on the new 155-bed patient tower, which scheduled to open in 2009.

Former foundation chairman Wayne Sikes, who worked with Riddle on marketing the ambitious expansion plan, said Gwinnett's loss is Wayne County's gain.

"John is a person that you hate to lose," Sikes said. "He's a fine man and they're getting just a great person. We certainly wish him well."

The foundation will begin searching for Riddle's replacement soon, Sikes said.

Riddle's first day of work is April 15. He will commute on the weekends to allow his boys to finish the school year in Gwinnett, he said.