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Staunch Patient Safety Advocate Set to Retire; Phoebe Promotes New Chief Medical Officer

Albany, Ga. – After a distinguished 31-year career serving the people of southwest Georgia, Dr. Steven Kitchen is retiring.  As an independent obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Kitchen delivered more than 2,500 babies at Phoebe before becoming the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in 2014.  “It has been extremely rewarding to have worked in collaboration with our physicians, nurses, and other deeply committed health professionals to advance patient care and work towards our goal of zero harm for patients,” Dr. Kitchen said.  “I leave fully confident that Phoebe will remain the beacon of hope and healing for all, and that Phoebe will continue to provide safe, high-quality, and compassionate care for every patient.”

As hospital CMO, Dr. Kitchen led vital projects focused on patient safety.  He helped set up and oversee quality improvement teams that worked on projects designed to improve specific quality metrics, resulting in a 61% improvement in the hospital’s patient safety in dex in three years.  He led Phoebe’s transition to a high intensity model for critical care that ensures Phoebe’s most seriously ill patients receive best practice care from a multi-disciplinary team of specially trained intensivists and other highly skilled providers.  Most recently, Dr. Kitchen has led Phoebe’s journey to become a High Reliability Organization, with a goal of better standardizing processes, eliminating errors and achieving zero patient harm.

“Dr. Kitchen has been a driving force in our commitment to patient safety and quality, and his leadership has resulted in monumental improvements in our quality metrics.  You will not a find a more steadfast advocate for patients.  He is also a strong voice for our physician community and has worked hard to strengthen our organization’s relationship with our medical staff,” said Joe Austin, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer.

Dr. Kitchen grew up in Atlanta and attended Emory University, Georgia State University and the Medical College of Georgia before beginning his practice in Albany in 1989.  Recently, Dr. Kitchen has played a vital role in Phoebe’s COVID-19 response and, while appearing often at community COVID-19 news conferences, has shared expert and potentially lifesaving information with the public.  “Dr. Kitchen is a solid, reasoned and respected voice in our community, as well as a passionate and compassionate leader within the walls of our hospital.  We absolutely could not have accomplished all that we have during our COVID-19 fight without his wise counsel and steady leadership,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System President & Chief Executive Officer.

“I could not be prouder of the way Phoebe and the Albany medical community at large have responded over the last nine months.  Despite being confronted with unprecedented challenges and adversity by the COVID-19 pandemic, they have responded with unparalleled courage, dedication, and heroism.  It has been an honor and privilege to have served with them.  We all felt the love and support of our community – it was palpable every day amid great tumult and uncertainty,” Dr. Kitchen said.

When Dr. Kitchen retires at the end of the year, Dr. Kathy Hudson will assume the role of CMO at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.  “As the current chief of our medical staff, Dr. Hudson already has a great working relationship with our physicians.  We’re excited for her to work closely with our new system CMO Dr. Dianna Grant and our new system Vice President of Quality Lisa Johnson to further enhance our focus on patient safety,” Austin said.

Most recently, Dr. Hudson has served as Regional Medical Director for Phoebe’s Hospitalist Group and President of the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Medical Executive Committee.  After earning her medical doctorate and completing her residency at the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Hudson moved to Americus in 2001 and worked as an emergency physician at Sumter Regional Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center.  She began working as a hospitalist in 2006 and joined Phoebe Physicians in 2008.  “It is an honor to follow in Dr. Kitchen’s footsteps.  In this new role, I look forward to continuing to serve our patients and work closely with our outstanding team of Phoebe and independent physicians to further elevate our level of care,” Dr. Hudson said.

Renowned oncologist and Phoebe Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology Dr. Chirag Jani will replace Dr. Hudson as Medical Executive Committee President in the new year.  “Dr. Jani has an outstanding reputation among his patients and his colleagues, and I am certain he will thrive in this position as the leading representative of our medical staff,” Austin said.