Don Worthington

Rock Hill hospital’s new chief medical officer to lead from experience

Dr. Jeff Davis, the new chief medical officer at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, is a dentist, a doctor and a surgeon.
Dr. Jeff Davis, the new chief medical officer at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, is a dentist, a doctor and a surgeon.

Piedmont Medical Center’s new chief medical officer is a renaissance man.

Dr. Jeff Davis understands the importance of language. He enjoys a well-crafted story with precise words and the right cadence. He is a self-professed “bibliophile” – a lover of books.

During one of his residencies, he and another doctor would hide a book in a break room. When each had a break, they would read the same chapter. Their book discussions were a relief valve from the pressures of medicine.

Literature often makes its way into his medical teachings.

Sinclair Lewis’ classic novel “Arrowsmith” is a favorite. Its theme is as appropriate today as when Lewis wrote it in 1925 – a physician searching for the truth, battling the conflict between commerce and altruism.

His favorite book at the moment is “Poetry in Medicine: An Anthology of Poems About Doctors, Patients, Illness and Healing.”

The three R’s – reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic – are foundational for Davis. But in his case, the three R’s could easily refer to resume, reputation and relationships.

Davis, 64, is not an easy talker about his past. But his resume – 15 pages in length – offers insights. As anundergraduate at Wake Forest University, this son of a pediatrician earned an athletic letter as a swimmer.

He graduated cum laude in biology, went to the University of North Carolina for a dental degree and then to Duke University for a medical degree. Dentist, doctor and then surgeon.

He also became a college professor and went back to school to study hospital management.

His most recent job was vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Houston Healthcare in Warner Robins, Ga. – a hospital with two fully accredited acute care medical facilities with a combined capacity of 282 beds. Piedmont has 288 beds, and its services are similar to what Houston Healthcare offered.

Three lines of the Davis resume certainly beg for more conversation:

“Nov. 1992

Kanti Children’s Hospital

Kathmandu, Nepal.”

And there is no specific reference to his time on the surgical team of Dr. Thomas Starzl’sorgan transplant team during a postgraduate residence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

When Davis came to Rock Hill for his interview, it was difficult to tell who was the interviewer and who was being interviewed. His reputation preceded him, and many of the Piedmont staff had served with him elsewhere.

Dr. Sushil K. Singhi, the medical chief of staff at Piedmont Medical Center, was one of those assigned to interview Davis. Singhi’s and Davis’ careers overlapped at the University of Pittsburgh, but Singhi couldn’t recall whether they had met. Nonetheless, in the interview Davis asked Singhi about his sons and their aspiring medical careers.

“During the interview, I quickly formed the opinion this was the right guy for PMC,” Singhi said, because of the variety of his experiences. It was Davis’ initial impression, however, that sealed the deal for Singhi.

“My first impression?” Singhi said. “I had just found a long-lost friend I didn’t even know I had.”

His acceptance at PMC “was a sense of joy,” Davis said. “There was a sense of warmth and welcoming.”

His goal at PMC is to establish relationships that build trust and transparency.

Everyone at PMC should benefit from Davis’ experience, Singhi said, especially how he has encouraged patients.

Davis said his most satisfying work as a surgeon came when he combined his dental and medical skills, performing a variety of facial surgeries and reconstructions. These procedures often restored young children, giving them a future free of medical defects.

One of his greatest joys, Davis said, is when these children, now adults, find him on social media and send him invitations to their weddings or their graduations. They remember the words of encouragement he offered to them, and they want Davis to know how his words and actions helped change their lives.

“It’s heartwarming to be found,” Davis said. “I do have pictures of them in my medical record books, and I do remember them. I write back and send them gifts.”

Like his predecessor, Dr. James Wood, patient care is Davis’ top priority. Helping what he calls an already talented medical staff become leaders is another priority.

And while he is no longer a practicing surgeon, using “the given gift of manual dexterity,” his outlook remains the same – “to be used by the Holy Spirit to do things greater than yourself.”

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066 •

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