Jackson County

Jackson County officials say CFO is key to keeping SRHS on track for financial healing

Brian Argo, CFO for Singing River Health System, is leaving after a year for a job in South Carolina.
Brian Argo, CFO for Singing River Health System, is leaving after a year for a job in South Carolina.

The Chief Financial Officer of Singing River Health System is leaving for a job in South Carolina.

Brian Argo, who was promoted to CFO at SRHS a year ago, almost to the day, was an asset to the county hospital system, Jackson County leaders say, especially during this time of what they believe is financial healing.

Argo worked with the hospital system under CFO Lee Bond before assuming the position, when Bond was promoted to Chief Operating Officer last year.

Jackson County Supervisor Ken Taylor said he called Argo “a superstar after he presented last year’s audit report to the county Board of Supervisors. He has a great future ahead.”

Chancery Clerk Josh Elderidge, who handles the finances for Jackson County as a whole, had this to say about how important the CFO is to SRHS: “From an administrative standpoint, the CFO is one of the most important positions in an organization. Almost every decision from an operational or strategic standpoint comes from the information provided through the CFO’s office.

“From a financial position, the hospital has made great improvements over the past several years, so it’s disappointing to lose such a valuable asset as Brian Argo.”

Argo, who has an MBA, came to the hospital system after serving as a vice president of revenue for Children’s Hospital of Omaha, Nebraska, where he managed budgets, contracts and revenue cycle improvements for two years.

At SRHS, he learned under Bond, who is a CPA. Bond was credited (on the SRHS website) with playing a pivotal role in the system’s financial and operational turnaround since early 2014. That’s when the system announced is was carrying $88 million in uncollectible debt and calling it revenue. Later it was revealed the county hospital system was struggling to keep enough cash on hand to satisfy the company that insures its bond debt and that the main employee retirement system had not been funded as promised.

Elderidge said, “The poor operational and strategic decisions made before 2014, were based on improper revenue numbers, so I can’t stress enough the importance of the competence and integrity of the person that will be filling the CFO position” as Argo leaves.

Argo played a key role in the overhaul of the system’s Financial Services and execution of the comprehensive turnaround plan the hospital system implemented to get back on a solid financial footing, SRHS CEO Kevin Holland said.

“We wish him and his family all the best,” he said.

Until last year, SRHS had been operating without the support of taxpayers’ dollars, but Jackson County has pledged $13 million over the next decade to help with indigent care as part of a legal settlement over the failed SRHS employee pension plan.

Jackson County Supervisor Randy Bosarge said, “I hate we’re losing a good, young talent. You know how the business is these days. When the young guys can go elsewhere and make more money, it’s hard for the hospital system to match it ... he was dong such a fantastic job.”