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James E. Cathey, Jr. Transitioning to New Role with North Oaks Health System and Michele K. Sutton named to Succeed Him as President and CEO

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Melanie Zaffuto
Today, James E. Cathey, Jr. announced that he would be transitioning to a new role with North Oaks effective December 31, 2016, and the North Oaks Board of Commissioners named Michele Kidd Sutton, FACHE, as the successor.

James E. Cathey, Jr. has successfully led North Oaks Health System through a period of unprecedented growth and industry change for 30 years. Cathey shared, “It has been my honor and privilege to work with the Board, Physicians, Leadership, Staff and Volunteers of this great institution to make a difference in the lives of this community.”

During his tenure, North Oaks has grown from one small hospital known as Seventh Ward General to the largest community based health system on the Northshore. North Oaks Health System includes: North Oaks Medical Center which is a 330-bed acute care hospital; the 27-bed North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital; North Oaks Physician Group; North Oaks-Livingston Parish Medical Complex; two Outpatient Diagnostic Centers; and North Oaks School of Radiologic Technology and Dietetic Internship Program. Since 1986, Cathey has led the organization through unprecedented growth—from 400 employees to close to 2,700 and developed the medical staff from 60 to more than 240 physicians in 38 different specialties.

Cathey has been a member of the Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) for 30 years and is currently their Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee. In 2004, he was recognized by the Louisiana Hospital Association’s Society for Hospital Public Relations and Marketing with the Golden Pelican President’s Award for CEO of the Year and has served as the Southeast District President of LHA. He has been a member of Rotary for over 40 years between several chapters, most recently in Hammond. Also, he is an active member of the Northshore Healthcare Alliance and a past president. In addition, Cathey is on the Northshore Business Council and a member of the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce where he has fulfilled his passion for sports by serving on the Top 28 committee since its inception.

“Jimmy has had a very distinguished and enduring career with North Oaks. Under his tutelage the organization has expanded to meet the growing health care needs of our community. I know I speak for the entire Board, when I emphatically state he has done an excellent job in leading with passion, vision and dedication. He is leaving the Health System well-positioned to navigate the challenges that we face with health care in our community. We thank him and wish him all the best,” stated North Oaks Board of Commissioners Chairman Blake Daniels.

Daniels continued, “It's my privilege to announce on behalf of the Board of Commissioners, its selection of Michele Kidd Sutton, FACHE, to succeed Jimmy as President and CEO of North Oaks Health System. She will step into her new role January 1, 2017. Sutton will spend the next several months working with us and her leadership team to develop and execute a smooth transition.”

“Sutton’s passion, health care acumen and vision for North Oaks and this community make her the right choice,” affirmed Ann Carruth, Vice-Chairman North Oaks Board of Commissioners.

The 28-year veteran of North Oaks has worked in or overseen nearly every aspect of the more than quarter of a billion dollar organization and assisted in its many successes. Since 2006, Sutton has served as North Oaks Health System’s Executive Vice-President/Chief Operating Officer. In 2012, she added Administrator of North Oaks Medical Center and Chairman of North Oaks Physician Group to her existing job duties. She also led over $250 million dollars of community reinvestment through facility expansions, new construction and services to meet the growing Florida Parishes’ health care needs.

Furthermore, Sutton is credited with establishing the robust North Oaks Physician Group which employs close to 60% of the medical staff. When Sutton took over the helm of physician employment, there were only two clinics. Today, North Oaks has 34 clinics in two parishes staffed with both physicians and midlevel providers. She and her team also led the implementation of North Oaks’ first system-wide electronic health record.

Sutton is board certified as a health care executive by the American College of Healthcare Executives. She earned both her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts Degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University.

She is active in several professional organizations, including the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) where she is currently fulfilling a three-year term as Regent for the State of Louisiana. She also served as President and Vice President of the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of ACHE. She has been a member of Louisiana Hospital Association for 28 years and currently serves as a member of the Legislative, Regulatory, and Policy Committee. She also served on the State-wide Perinatal Commission to revise licensing standards for the Department of Health and Hospitals. She has been a member of Healthcare Roundtable for Chief Operating Officers since 2006.

Her love and devotion to this community is further evidenced by her service to it. She has been a member of the Hammond Rotary Club for more than a decade and served as its President, President Elect and several terms as Secretary. In 1991, Sutton was recognized as Rotarian of the Year and became a Paul Harris fellow in 2007. Sutton also held many offices over 3 decades with the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce to include: President, President Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, Board of Director and numerous committee chairmanships and committee memberships. She is a lifetime member of the Southeastern Louisiana University Alumni Association, past board member and a Southeastern University Felion where she currently serves as chairman of Champagne Bingo. Over the years, she has also worked on numerous committees throughout the community with United Way, Special Olympics, Red Cross, Richard Murphy Hospice Foundation, Downtown Development District, Swamp Romp, Hammond Balloon Festival and Airshow, Hammond Jaycees, Southeastern President’s Ladies, Southeastern Alumni Association and Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority and Corporation Board.

Sutton was recognized as one of the Most Influential Women of Tangipahoa Parish by the Daily Star in 2014; one of the Women of the Year by New Orleans CityBusiness in 2007, Marketer of the Year by the Louisiana Society for Hospital Public Relations and Marketing in 2004 and received the Greater Hammond Chamber of Commerce Annie Award for Outstanding Woman in Business for 1999.