A Changing of the Guard for the SMLC

The Senior Medical Leadership Council (SMLC) is a joint initiative between the South Carolina Medical Association, the voice of the state’s physicians, and the South Carolina Hospital Association, which represents the interests of hospitals as a whole. The Council is made up of physician leaders throughout the state and helps address critical issues that are of mutual concern to both doctors and hospital administrators. The organization also provides a valuable support structure for doctors to learn and collaborate with one another as well. The Chair of the SMLC also serves as an ex officio member of SCHA’s Board of Trustees, where they provide a valuable physician perspective on hospitals’ long-term strategic goals.

“The Council is supposed to be a venue to enable physicians around the state to network,” explained Dr. Edward Catalano, who served as the Council’s chair from 2012 to May of this year. “If you've got a problem, you can go to [this] network of physicians and hopefully someone will have faced that problem before and will have a good solution. We try to have standardized interaction between physicians and hospitals. You don't really want people to be doing things all that different, as much as possible you want to have a standardized, best-practices way of approaching those issues.”

Catalano’s tenure on the SMLC Board is just the most recent bit of service in what has been an extraordinary career. After finishing his residency at Johns Hopkins, he went into the army from 1974-1976, stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  After leaving the service, he spent a year before joining the pathology department of Richland Memorial Hospital (which later became Palmetto Health Richland). He would be with that pathology group for more than 30 years, including the last six as its Chairman. He also served as Chief of Staff at the hospital for a time, as well as chaired both institutional review boards over the past 20 years. He’s also been Chairman of the Board for the South Carolina Medical Association and served as President for a year, also. 

Taking his place on the SMLC is Dr. George Helmrich, the Chief Medical Officer at Baptist Easley, where he’s been for the last four years. A hybrid engineer-physician, Helmrich has an unusual background—he got his B.S. in mechanical engineering before doing graduate work in bioengineering and then going on to medical school and an OB-GYN residency. His clinical practice and research for much of the past two decades has been focused on bone metabolism and osteoporosis.

Dr. Helmrich also comes to the SMLC with a formidable background in administrative medicine. He spent some time as medical director at Greer Memorial Hospital, where he also served as Vice Chair of Quality and Inpatient Operations for the OB-GYN department. 

Helmrich brings a focus on population health and the use of technology to his new position, where he hopes to foster “disruptive partnerships” to improve existing systems. 

“My plan for the Council is really to address some of the problems we experience day-to-day and tackle them as a body instead of as individuals,” he said. 

He also places a premium on improving SMLC’s membership engagement to ensure it continues to prove to be a valuable leadership organization for the South Carolina physicians. 


08-31-2016 01:14 (EDT)