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McLaren Northern Michigan names new Petoskey CEO

Petoskey's McLaren Northern Michigan hospital. (File photo: Mike Krebs/Record-Eagle)
Mike Krebs/Record-Eagle/Mike Krebs
Record-Eagle/Mike Krebs
Petoskey's McLaren Northern Michigan hospital. (File photo: Mike Krebs/Record-Eagle)

McLaren Northern Michigan has a new leader.

The health system announced today that Gar Atchison will become president and CEO of the hospital located at 416 Connable Ave., in Petoskey.

According to a press release, he will start in late November.

The previous CEO, Todd Burch, left his job in May. McLaren said that he was pursuing other career opportunities, but did not elaborate further.

Atchison comes from the Marquette-based UP Health System, where he was regional president and CEO. He’s also held other executive roles in his more-than-30-year career.

Coming to McLaren in Petoskey is a homecoming of sorts. Atchison started his career as a financial operations manager at Northern Michigan Hospital in the late 1980s — before it was owned by McLaren.

“This is a full-circle moment for me, and I’m thrilled to be coming home,” Atchison said in the Oct. 26 press release. “I have deep roots in Petoskey, and, with family and loved ones throughout northern Michigan, I am personally invested in the care and wellbeing of these communities. I am excited to be joining this excellent team of doctors and staff members routinely recognized for its quality and safety.”

Atchison holds a degree in financial management from University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and a Master of Business Administration from Lake Superior State University.

He's a fellow with the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

Chad Grant, McLaren Health Care Chief Operating Officer, was interim CEO since Burch left in May.

“With his impressive leadership experience and history in northern Michigan, Gar and the McLaren Northern Michigan team are well positioned to serve the many needs of the region now and for years to come,” Grant said in the news release.

A McLaren spokesperson said Atchison would not be taking interviews until he starts in the position.

McLaren Northern Michigan serves residents in 22 counties across northern Lower Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula. The Petoskey hospital is a certified Primary Stroke Center with an emphasis on cardiology, cancer, orthopedics and neurosciences. It has 202 beds.

The health system also owns an outpatient surgery center in Cheboygan that expanded this summer to include an 11,000-square-foot facility inpatient behavioral health center. The facility was a welcomed addition as officials say getting mental health care in Northern Michigan remains extremely difficult.

In recent weeks, McLaren closed the 8-bed Cheboygan Hospice House for what it says are staffing and funding challenges left over by the pandemic. The decision has sparked frustration and concern from Cheboygan residents who say the facility was a valuable asset.

“This consolidation will enhance the coordination of patient care, facilitate better communication among staff members, and allocate resources more effectively,” a statement from the health system said.

The Hiland Hospice House in Petoskey is now one of the few inpatient hospice facilities in the region. A citizen group called “Friends of Hiland Cottage Hospice,” said it’s working with McLaren to ensure the facility’s future.

Ed Ronco is IPR's news director.
Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.