Thornton Kirby, FACHE
Thornton Kirby is President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association. In this role he oversees a wide range of activities on behalf of the state’s 92 hospitals, including policy development and legislative advocacy, as well as efforts to improve the quality and safety of patient care.
When Thornton was hired as President of the Hospital Association in 2005, South Carolina’s hospitals were eager to strengthen their political advocacy and enhance SCHA’s brand. Thornton and his team worked with hospital leaders to re-order the Association’s priorities and rebuilt the organization around an updated vision of what a modern hospital association should be. Central to that vision is a simple truth: hospitals are expected to deliver excellent patient care in a safe environment.
Under Thornton’s leadership the Hospital Association has been nationally recognized for its work to transform health care in South Carolina.
- In 2007 South Carolina’s hospitals launched a major initiative to standardize and improve heart attack care across the state. As a result of innovative, collaborative work by emergency physicians, cardiologists, and EMS leaders, South Carolina now ranks in the top 5 among all US states in delivering timely care for patients suffering severe heart attacks.
- In 2009 the Centers for Disease Control noted that of the 17 states where hospitals are required by law to report infection rates, South Carolina was the only state that experienced a decrease in central line infections, and South Carolina’s decrease was significant.
- In 2010 Dr. Atul Gawande, one of the world’s leading voices in clinical quality and health policy, selected South Carolina over all other US states to be the demonstration site for the World Health Organization surgical safety program.
- In 2012 South Carolina was recognized by the US Department of Health & Human Services as one of the fastest improving states when it comes to health care quality.
- In 2012 SCHA received the American Hospital Association’s Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. (The award is presented annually to a hospital association that demonstrates exceptional organizational leadership and innovation in quality improvement and has made significant contributions to quality.)
- In 2013 South Carolina’s hospitals were recognized yet again for high quality care when they ranked fifth among all states for bonuses earned under Medicare’s new Value Based Purchasing program. (Out of 212 major hospital markets in the US, three of the top ten are in South Carolina.)
- In 2013 SCHA also undertook its most ambitious effort to date, launching a first-in-the-nation partnership with The Joint Commission to transform South Carolina’s hospitals into highly reliable systems of care.
Thornton is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the USC School of Law. He is a health care attorney and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Thornton speaks frequently on health care topics and serves on a number of state and national boards.