Hospitals get new CEO: Clayton McGhan to oversee operations in Kona and Kohala

  • McGhan

A new CEO has been named to oversee Kona Community and Kohala hospitals.

Clayton McGhan, who has been the interim CEO since May when former CEO Jim Lee’s contract was not renewed, was appointed permanently into the position following a Dec. 9 vote by the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. West Hawaii Regional Board of Directors.


McGhan and his wife, a Big Island native, decided to move to Kona from Arizona to pursue a career in his chosen field after McGhan received his master’s degree in health care administration. He started volunteering in the Kona hospital’s emergency department in 2014, where he was noticed by management and became the assistant to the chief nurse executive and then-CEO Jay Kreuzer.

“In 2017, I received the opportunity to become the operations director at Alii Health Center. I took on that role for about a year and then in 2018 I was appointed president and CEO,” he explained. McGhan continued in that role until May when he took over as interim CEO at the hospital.

McGhan said he is looking forward to moving Kona Community and Kohala hospitals into the future.

“The No. 1 thing we are doing that is transformational for the West Hawaii side is moving our EMR (electronic medical records) system to Epic,” he said.

McGhan said Epic is one of the top EMR systems in the nation that gives the ability to communicate between locations. The current system creates communication breakdowns between providers

With Epic information is instantly available for all users, including those on the mainland.

“Now we know your history. If you come to the ER, we know what’s going on and we can diagnose and take care of issues without having to wait for any kind of imaging. It’s going to be transformational,” he said.

He said both Hawaii Island Community Health Center and Alii Heath Center have also recently transitioned to the system, which means patients being seen by the two largest providers in the area will have their records on the same system as the west-side hospital.

His current priorities for the Kealakekua-based Kona Community Hospital are staffing and infrastructure.

“Staffing has been a huge issue with us. Another issue we are dealing with is out wait list patients. A lot of people don’t realize we are a 94-bed acute care hospital. On any given day a third of our beds are occupied by long-term patients and intermediate care patients that need to go to a more appropriate level of care, but we have no place to discharge them. Life Care has had to reduce their number of beds open because of staffing. That translates into longer wait times in our emergency department because the acute beds are full,” he said.

McGhan believes the hospital needs to cultivate individuals from the community for long-term success in regard to staffing.

“We are focused on creating an education center of excellence. In August, we started a surgical tech program. We realize we need to grow from within and that means we need outreach and have programs available to partner with community colleges and schools to see how we can inspire the youth to want to stay here. It’s a long game because there is no set solution now other than bringing in outside staffing. But if we can build it now, in the future we will be better off,” he said. “Right now, we are laying a strong foundation for a lot of these initiatives.”

McGhan earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and a master’s degree in healthcare administration and management, both from Grand Canyon University. Currently, he is working toward a board certification with the American College of Healthcare Executives.

He was recently recognized by “Irish 40 under 40,” a celebration of Irish and Irish Americans who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of work before reaching the age of 40. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Kona- Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

“Clayton’s strong performance as the interim CEO gives us confidence that he is the right person to lead the West Hawaii Region,” said Hawaii Health Systems Corp. West Hawaii Regional Board of Directors Chairman Dan Rick, PT, in a media release. “His deep ties to this community contributes to a sense of stability he will continue to offer our staff, patients and the greater medical community.”

Added McGhan: “I’m connected here. I love it here, my family is here and I want to grow old here. I have some skin in the game.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email