Since Matt was good at math and science, his father suggested he become an engineer.  At the time, Matt didn’t understand what math/science had to do with driving a train.  It was a visit to WVU during a high school visitation that convinced Matt that engineering was the career path for him.

While Matt had considered Chemical Engineering, he decided on Industrial Engineering because he liked the business aspect of IE.  It was an internship after Matt’s sophomore year that gave him further career direction.  He worked at Fairmont General Hospital and was given a very meaningful assignment doing a process improvement project in the Emergency Department.  A meeting with the CEO at Fairmont General further solidified his career interests.  Matt says:  “There are over 5,000 hospitals in the country and they’re located in almost every town, so I felt I had a unique opportunity to reach a leadership position and also have some choice in where I wanted to live more so than other types of business.  I also liked the complexity and mission of healthcare institutions.”

After graduation, Matt joined Premier Inc., a healthcare consulting company.  Initially, he supported a number of client hospitals with a benchmarking tool for productivity measurement.  He then moved to a support role as a Management Engineer for two hospitals.

While at Premier, Matt also earned an MBA at the University of South Carolina in their Executive MBA program. “It’s important to have a master’s degree if you want a leadership position in a hospital,” Matt says.

After completing his master’s degree, Matt wanted to move more into a career track leading to a senior leadership position in a hospital.  Matt joined the Hospital Corporation of America and later Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), because of their reputations for developing future hospital leaders.  Over the next six years, Matt had a series of increasingly responsible healthcare positions in New Orleans and Washington DC.

Eleven years after graduation, Matt realized his dream of a senior level healthcare position when he was named the Chief Operating Officer of Aiken Regional Medical Centers in Aiken, South Carolina.  Aiken Regional is part of UHS, a Fortune 500 company.

Matt advises students to be flexible and willing to move if they want to advance their career quickly. “I moved 5 times in 11 years, Matt says.  “This creates personal challenges that you will have to work through, but enables you to go where the next opportunity lies.  You also need a supportive spouse who understands the demands of the job.”


Matthew B. Merrifield is the Chief Operating Officer of Aiken Regional Medical Centers, a 245-bed community hospital in Aiken, South Carolina.  He has served in this capacity since July 2016. Aiken Regional Medical Centers is owned by Universal Health Services, Inc., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  Prior to joining Aiken Regional Medical Centers, Matt had been Associate Administrator of The George Washington University Hospital, a 385-bed academic medical center in Washington, D.C. from 2013 to 2016 and Assistant Administrator and Chief Staffing Officer of Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, a 354-bed academic medical center in New Orleans, Louisiana from 2012-2013.  Additionally, Matt has held various Management Engineering roles of increasing responsibility, including that of Director of Management Engineering for Hospital Corporation of America’s eight-hospital Delta Division.  Matt has more than 12 years’ experience in the healthcare industry with progressive leadership experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit health systems.  Matt received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering from West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia and his Master of Business Administration degree from The University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.  Matt is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Regional Leadership Council-Midlands Region.  Matt is actively involved in the Aiken community and currently serves on the Boards of the Aiken Area Red Cross, Aiken Technical College Foundation, and Executive Leadership Committee of the American Heart Association’s Central Savannah River Area Heart Walk.  Matt and his wife Cathy reside in Aiken and recently welcomed their first daughter, Ellery Cate, into the world.

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