MD to CEO: Bruce Murphy Leads Arkansas Heart Hospital

Dr. Bruce Murphy found himself at an unexpected crossroad after Medcath Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., announced its intention last year to exit the ownership picture at Arkansas Heart Hospital.

Several prospective buyers tracked through town contemplating a buyout of Medcath's 70.3 percent stake in the 112-bed facility in west Little Rock.

Murphy and the other local doctors/investors holding the remaining 29.7 percent didn't feel good about what might accompany a new majority partner.

"We had shivers it would change our culture and that we would become just a piece of property to them," he said. "The question boiled down to: Who do we really trust this to? A light went on: ‘Bruce, the only way you can do this is for you to do this.'"

The decision to lead a $65 million buyout of Medcath and personally take over management of the specialty hospital had dramatic professional consequences.

Murphy had to abruptly end a 30-year career as a respected cardiologist. To become the full-time CEO and administrator of the specialty hospital he helped launch with MedCath in 1997 meant relinquishing his medical license to comply with new federal laws regarding hospital ownership by doctors.

More: Click to read the full cover story in Arkansas Business.