Southcoast Health is set to start a search for a new CEO and president after its current leader, Dr. Rayford Kruger, announced in a Wednesday letter to the company’s employees that it is time to begin looking for his successor.

Kruger was appointed to the head role about nine months ago after the Board of Trustees removed longtime President Keith Hovan following his arrest and charge with domestic assault in November of 2021. 

St. Luke’s hospital in New Bedford. Credit: Southcoast Health

Kruger briefly served as interim president and CEO until the Board of Trustees announced in early March that he would “lead Southcoast for the foreseeable future.”

On Monday, Governor-elect Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll announced that Kruger was among more than two dozen officials joining their transition team on the health policy committee. It is unclear how long that position with the transition team will last. 


Asked if the timing of the announcement was related to Kruger’s work with the transition team, Southcoast Health spokesperson Shawn Badgley said by email that it was not.

“If anything, Dr. Kruger’s role on the Safe and Healthy Communities for All Ages committee further reinforces his commitment to leading Southcoast Health and serving the South Coast region,” he wrote. 

According to his letter, Kruger said the plan was for him to serve as “someone who could help the system navigate a time of great adversity,” citing the pandemic and other challenges healthcare organizations are facing, and to eventually create a “course of succession when circumstances allowed and the time was right.” 

Kruger wrote that after a discussion with the Board of Trustees, they determined now was the time to contact a national firm to help identify Kruger’s successor. The three-hospital system will employ a “national executive leadership firm” to guide them.

“This search will be thorough, deliberate, and wide-ranging. Until it is complete, regardless of how long it takes, I will work every day to serve our patients, providers and staff, and community partners,” he wrote.

Prior to being named as Southcoast Health’s acting president and CEO in 2021, Kruger served as the chief physician executive and physician-in-chief of surgical services, according to his profile on the Southcoast Health website. He was also the medical director of the Southcoast Health Weight Loss Center from 2004 to 2021, and practiced general surgery at Tobey Hospital for more than 32 years.

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