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Thornton Kirby, FACHE

Expertise: Healthcare Administration and Public Policy

Thornton Kirby has been President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association since 2005. Thornton is recognized nationally as a leader in health care reform and patient safety, and under his leadership South Carolina has emerged as one of the nation’s top states in the quality of hospital care.

The Hospital Association is currently working with Dr. Atul Gawande and his colleagues at Harvard University to improve surgical safety, and the Association is also working with The Joint Commission to build a culture of high reliability across South Carolina’s hospitals. Both initiatives have garnered national attention as models for improving hospital care nationwide.

Thornton was recruited out of high school to attend the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar, and after earning his undergraduate degree in American Government he returned home to study law at the University of South Carolina. Before joining the South Carolina Hospital Association, Thornton practiced law as a health care attorney, worked as a hospital administrator, and served for nearly a decade as a senior executive at Clemson University.

Thornton has extensive experience with corporate governance, having served as a director on 45 different boards over the past 30 years. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and he holds adjunct faculty appointments at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina where he lectures frequently on health care issues. Because of South Carolina’s leadership in patient safety and quality, Thornton is frequently invited to speak at national and regional meetings on health care reform and quality of care.

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