A prolonged leadership transition at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point became effective immediately Tuesday when it was announced that President and Chief Executive Officer Albert Gutierrez is assuming the same duties with Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Ron Johnson, currently Shore Memorial’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, is now the president and CEO of the hospital.

Johnson was previously tabbed as Gutierrez’s successor in December following an 11-month planning process, although he had until Gutierrez’s scheduled departure by the end of 2011 to take on the new role.

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Johnson, 52, holds a bachelor’s degree in information and science systems from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and a master’s degree in business administration from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He worked at a Philadelphia consulting firm before joining the staff at Shore Memorial in 1996 and lives in Linwood.

Gutierrez started at Shore Memorial in 1985 and has served as president and CEO since 2002.

“I shared my intentions early on with the board of trustees so the selection of my successor could be done with forethought and diligence,” said Gutierrez in a statement. “During my tenure with Shore Memorial, I have worked with our leadership team to create a vibrant hospital with a strong strategic plan. Together with my wife, Margaret, I have also enjoyed a strong relationship with the community. I have great confidence that Ron will continue to build on the success of Shore Memorial.”

The hospital is currently building a 130,000-square-foot surgery pavilion and medical office with a four-story parking garage at its Somers Point campus as a part of a $115 million expansion project. A $14 million project to build medical offices in Egg Harbor Township is also planned and anticipated to be completed in mid-2011.

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