City officials, hospital board members welcome Demers as new CEO at Andalusia Health

Published 11:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The City of Andalusia welcomed new Andalusia Health CEO Vickie Demers to the community in a reception on the second floor of City Hall on Tuesday, June 20.

Originally from Decatur, Alabama, Demers brings more than 22 years of healthcare experience to her new position. Prior to arriving in Andalusia, she served as the COO of Logan Regional Medical Center in Logan, West Virginia.

“I’m glad to get back to Alabama,” Demers said. “My previous hospital is owned by the same company, ScionHealth, so when this transfer opportunity came open, I jumped on it. I have friends and family in multiple areas of the state, so this gets me back close to them. Being this close to the beach doesn’t hurt either.”

She was asked to serve seven months as interim CEO with her prior hospital, Logan Regional Medical Center, and a sister hospital, Raleigh General Hospital in nearby Beckley, West Virginia. Demers served as CEO at two HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospitals for 10 years in Morgantown, West Virginia, and Birmingham. Additional leadership positions include working with Health Management Associates and Sunlink Health Systems from 1998 to 2008.

According to Andalusia Health Board of Directors Chairman Terry Powell, Demers was one of three finalists who interviewed for the position.

“Being from Alabama, her experience in hospitals and the things she has accomplished allowed the board to make her an offer, which she accepted. We expect Vickie to be the face of Andalusia Health in our community. People will be able to tell her their experience whether it be good or bad. If it is not good, she will address it to prevent it from happening to someone else. We are looking for her to be here for quite some time because I’ve been on the board for 19 years, and the longest-tenured CEO we have had was one for four years. The staff is excited to have her. Her leadership style has been really accepting,” Powell said.

Her first day at Andalusia Health was Tuesday, May 16, where she was welcomed with open arms by her new colleagues.

“We close on our house in two weeks, which is very exciting. Everybody has been very supportive and friendly. I’m not surprised by the Southern hospitality and happy to be back in the South where we have grits and fried okra. The board has been great so far, and Patty Ashworth, our growth and outreach coordinator, has been showing me around the community. The support at this event today has been wonderful,” she said.

Although Demers is familiar with the small town setting, she added that she is grateful for the support.

“It takes a community to come together and make a hospital successful. It is one of the larger businesses here, and cooperation is needed. If we didn’t receive the support, the hospital wouldn’t be here, and the community would have to travel for healthcare. My background has been working in smaller towns and some smaller than Andalusia. If you have to travel for healthcare, it’s a burden not only on the patient but also the family, both physically and financially. With the price of gas and the way the economy is right now, it’s important to be in the local community and provide the needed services.”

One of her goals with Andalusia Health is physician recruitment.

“We have identified this as a focus area. We are hoping to recruit additional specialists like OB/GYN, cardiology, as well as additional primary care physicians on board. We currently have a good group of providers, we need to plan for the future and grow our base. I’m currently working with a group of our local physicians with the goal of identifying our strategies, new service lines, and how to get there. Staffing is a big issue to us right now post-pandemic. Being that partner with LBW and training the future workforce is key. We are working closely on getting some programs back open and services restarted,” Demers said.

She stated that she has felt right at home since she and her family made their way to Covington County.

“I’m no stranger to small towns. I embrace the culture in a place where I can know everybody. If they see me in Walmart, they can stop and ask me what is going on at the hospital.”

She is married to her husband of 30 years, Scott Demers, and they have two children: Sydney and Caroline. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bob Jones University and two master’s degrees in Health Administration and Business Administration from Georgia State University.

“We were pleased to host this reception welcoming Vickie to Andalusia and to Andalusia Health. Access to quality healthcare is a critical component of economic development, and I cannot overstate the importance of Andalusia Health to our community. We are very fortunate to have the specialized health care available here, and we look forward to working with Vickie and the hospital to continue to build and promote it as a regional healthcare provider,” Mayor Earl Johnson said.