Tiffany Murdock, CEO of Singing River Health System, speaks during a public hearing over the potential sale of Singing River Health System during a Jackson County Board of Supervisors meeting in Pascagoula on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. Credit: Hannah Ruhoff / Biloxi Sun Herald

The CEOs of two of the state’s largest hospital systems are resigning. 

Scott Kashman, head of St. Dominic Memorial Hospital in Jackson, and Tiffany Murdock, head of Singing River Health System on the Gulf Coast, have both announced they are leaving their positions.

According to spokespeople at both health systems, the CEOs’ decisions were made on their own accord. Both systems have ties to Louisiana Catholic nonprofit Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, which bought St. Dominic in 2019 and announced it was purchasing Singing River in March. The final sale agreement for Singing River has not yet been reached.

The departures continue a trend of hospital CEO turnover across the country. One study found that exits hit a four-year-high in January and attributed it to the tenuous state of health care across the country.

Mississippi is no exception — a third of rural hospitals are at risk of closure, according to one report. Three health systems in the state have recently announced sweeping layoffs.

Kashman, who has been CEO and market president of St. Dominic for a little less than two years, will be pursuing “an opportunity closer to family,” according to hospital marketing director Meredith Bailess. 

Scott Kashman, market president for St. Dominic Health Services and CEO of St. Dominic Hospital Credit: Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System

Bailess did not answer whether Kashman’s departure was related to the hospital’s recent layoffs and the closure of its behavioral health services unit. She also declined to answer if there were any other changes on the executive level at St. Dominic.

“We are appreciative of Scott’s commitment to the Jackson community and his leadership of our team through a difficult financial environment and the end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bailess said in an email. “We pray all the best for Scott and wish him well on his new endeavors.”

In his stead, Kristin Wolkart, chief nursing officer of the health system, will act as interim market president starting June 20. 

Murdock is leaving Singing River to become Ochsner Health’s next vice president and chief nursing officer, according to a press release from the health care system on Thursday. Ochsner, a Gulf Coast-based health care giant, operates dozens of facilities in Mississippi and employs more than 9,000 nurses.

Murdock was appointed as the leader of Singing River a year ago after serving in an interim position since last February. She was the first woman to hold the position. 

“The Board of Trustees would like to thank Tiffany for her dedication, visionary leadership, and unparalleled commitment to the organization,” said Singing River’s Board of Trustees President Erich Nichols in a press release issued Wednesday evening. 

“Under her guidance, we have witnessed remarkable achievements and tremendous growth, setting new standards of excellence within our industry,” he continued. “Her approachability, humility, and genuine care for the team made her not just a CEO but a mentor and friend to many within the organization. We wish Tiffany the very best in her future endeavors.”

Spokespeople for Singing River could not be reached for further questions by press time.

Laurin St. Pe, current chief operating officer, has been appointed the interim CEO upon Murdock’s departure, the exact date of which is unclear. Ochsner’s press release said Murdock would start at their health system later this summer.

“We have full confidence in Laurin’s ability to lead us through this transition period and maintain the positive momentum that has been built,” Nichols continued in the press release. “The Board of Trustees will work closely with Tiffany, Laurin, and the Executive Team to ensure the continuity of our operations, maintain our strategic focus, and uphold the values that define us as an organization.”

Singing River is one of the largest employers on the Gulf Coast, according to their website.

Clarification 6/15/2023: This story has been updated to reflect that while Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System was selected as the buyer for Singing River in March, the sale agreement has not yet been finalized.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Devna Bose, a Neshoba County native, covers community health. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied print journalism and was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Devna reported on education at Chalkbeat Newark and at the Post and Courier’s Education Lab, and on race and social justice at the Charlotte Observer. Her work has appeared in the Hechinger Report, the Star-Ledger and the Associated Press, and she has appeared on WNYC to discuss her reporting. Devna has been awarded for her coverage of K-12 education in the Carolinas.