The longtime chief executive of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center has announced he is stepping down and will be replaced by the chief operating officer.
Thomas Ockers, 65, who has led the 306-bed Patchogue hospital since 1991, will be succeeded by Richard Margulis, 55.
Margulis will take over in April 2013 after a six-month transition, the hospital announced this week. Ockers will stay at the hospital as a consultant for at least the next two years.
"I think this change has been anticipated for some time," Ockers said. "I'm getting to the age when one begins to think about these transitions."
Ockers said he is proud of getting inpatient psychiatry services at the hospital, expanding the emergency department and gaining state designation as an area trauma center. During his tenure, the hospital opened a stroke center, a women's center and an outpatient imaging center. Recently, the state approved the hospital to perform cardiac angioplasties.
Kevin Dahill, chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, which Ockers chaired from 2004-2006, called Ockers "a straight shooter" who was able to attract donors to give money to the relatively small community hospital.
"He's really raised Brookhaven to a new level it never was at before," he said.
Margulis praised Ockers for making the hospital "mission driven" and "putting the health care needs of the community first."
Margulis has worked at the hospital longer than Ockers. He started as an X-ray technician in 1982. By the time Ockers arrived, he was an administrator and since 2006 he has been the COO. He was the unanimous choice of the board.
Ockers said Margulis is poised to lead the hospital, not aligned with a large health system, through the tumultuous changes wrought by federal health care reform. Brookhaven just finished an 18-month project led by Margulis to improve care and lower costs "that has provided a substantial improvement in financial operations," Ockers said.