Donald J. Babb, Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Memorial Hospital (CMH) District and Riverside Management and Rehabilitation, and Executive Director of Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation (CMH Foundation) and CMH Properties, will retire in January 2020.

The Hospital and Foundation Boards of Directors have appointed Gary Fulbright, CMH Chief Financial Officer, as Babb’s successor. Fulbright was the third employee hired when CMH opened its doors nearly 38 years ago. He has previous experiences as a certified public accountant and internal auditor. Fulbright is a native of Bolivar and earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Southwest Baptist University and is a certified public accountant.

Babb announced his retirement to CMH in a personal letter to medical staff, employees and volunteers on Thursday, May 23. Babb remarked that deciding to retire has been a difficult decision.

“I love what I do and have loved growing CMH into the remarkable health care organization that it is today,” says Babb. “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve our community and to work alongside so many talented and caring health care providers, employees and volunteers.”

Babb’s retirement will mark more than 50 years in healthcare. While the average tenure nationally for a hospital CEO is around five years, Babb is one of the longest tenured hospital leaders in Missouri. Since 1981, he has led CMH as its one and only CEO.

“It is impossible to put into words how much Mr. Babb has meant to CMH and the communities we serve,” says Patrick Douglas, CMH Board Chairman. “His vision and leadership has been the driving force behind our amazing growth, compassionate care, physician recruitment, and the tireless pursuit of improving excellence in quality. His appreciation for the contributions made by every single team member is an inspiration to many, including me.”

“Mr. Babb arrived in Bolivar with a vision of what healthcare should look like in rural America. A place where healthcare is available to its citizens without extensive travel,” says Dave Strader, CMH Foundation Board President. “We have seen Don Babb’s vision come to life at Citizens Memorial. Along with a great professional staff under his leadership, the hospital and foundation have flourished. Mr. Babb’s vision will live far beyond his years here and is a legacy for the future.”

Babb is a previous chairman for the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) and serves on many state and national health care organizations’ boards and committees. He has received numerous prestigious awards and recognitions over the last 38 years. A few of those awards include the Missourian Award, Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Development Award by the American Hospital Association, MHA’s Distinguished Service Award, MHA’s Visionary Leadership Award, the Governor’s Quality Leadership Award, and many more.

A recent recognition included the pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in nursing program at Southwest Baptist University’s Bolivar campus, which was named the Don and Carrie Babb Department of Nursing in honor of Babb’s leadership at CMH and in the Bolivar community.

Under Babb’s leadership, CMH has grown to a fully-integrated healthcare system with services in eight counties in southwest Missouri including Benton, Cedar, Dade, Dallas, Hickory, northern Greene, Polk, and St. Clair.

CMH is licensed for 86 beds and is a Level III Trauma Center and a Level II STEMI Center. In addition to hospital services, CMH includes 34 primary care and specialty care physician clinics, senior health center, rehabilitation services, and ambulance services in four counties.

The CMH Foundation, established in 1986, owns and operates six long-term care

facilities and one residential care center that are licensed for 705 beds. The Foundation also owns and operates five independent living communities, home health, hospice, health transit, and homemaker plus services, five home medical equipment stores, and two retail pharmacies.

CMH was awarded the prestigious Davies Award of Excellence by the Health Information and Management Systems Society, which recognizes the innovative efforts associated with CMH’s patient electronic medical record system. CMH also was named a Most Wired Innovator and Most Wired organization, and was named one of the Top 10 Rural Hospitals in America. CMH is one of the 10 largest employers in southwest Missouri, and is a three time Missouri Quality Award recipient (2018, 2014 and 2010), which is modeled after the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Babb received his Master of Health Care Financial Management from Ohio State University and holds an Honorary Doctorate in business administration from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar.

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