OCEANSIDE — Emergency physician and chief medical officer Dr. Gene Ma has been named interim CEO of Tri-City Healthcare District.
The Tri-City Board approached Ma about taking over the temporary interim CEO while the search for a permanent candidate continues.
“Dr. Ma is a proven leader with more than two decades of service to the medical center,” said Board Chair Rocky Chavez.
The Tri-City board has hired HealthSearch Partners, a Dallas-based executive search firm, to help in a nationwide search for a permanent president and CEO. The search for a new CEO could take several months, and Ma could still be chosen for the title.
Ma has been an emergency department physician at Tri-City for over 20 years and is a 10-time honoree as one of San Diego’s Top Doctors in Emergency Medicine. He has also served in several administrative roles, including chief of staff from 2015 to 2017 and as a chief medical officer since 2019.
Aside from his work as an emergency room doctor, Ma’s background includes work in healthcare affiliations, mergers and acquisitions, and executive leadership in private equity and healthcare IT startups.
Ma attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, after which he completed an internship at Stanford and a residency in emergency medicine at UC San Diego before joining Tri-City.
“I’ve always been organization-first,” Ma said. “If they find a candidate that is best suited to lead this organization, I’ll be 100% behind it.”
As interim CEO, Ma plans to take a data-driven approach with future initiatives to improve operations while also keeping an ear open to what the community needs and wants from its local hospital.
“Our ability to listen and incorporate what the community needs from Tri-City as a hospital is going to be essential in how we move forward with directives we set forth for ourselves,” Ma said.
With all of his previous administrative experience and responsibilities, Ma has been maintaining a presence with patients and staff in the emergency room. However, those visits will likely have to pause when he officially takes on his new responsibilities as interim CEO.
“I feel that I get the best understanding of the impacts on patients and our staff when I’m doing that work with them side-by-side,” Ma said.
For Ma, the hospital must continue to honor and appreciate its staff and employees to maintain its “unique sense of family.” He praised the staff for its overall sense of leadership.
“There are many true leaders in this organization without titles, and knowing that they’re supported and that we value them is going to be a big piece in how we move forward,” Ma said.
Ma will officially take over as CEO on March 22, a day after current CEO Steve Dietlin is set to retire.