Onslow Memorial Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer was hired Thursday night to become the new CEO of the community hospital.

Penney Burlingame Deal, 54, has worked for the hospital since 1993 and served in a variety of capacities, most recently as the COO. She is a registered nurse and has a doctorate level degree in health care administration.

“I knew this interview was coming, and I’ve worked with the board for awhile now,” Burlingame Deal said, after the Onslow County Hospital Authority Board members voted on her promotion.

The Onslow County Hospital Authority met in a closed session for nearly an hour Thursday evening. During that time the board members interviewed Burlingame Deal. The board did not use a search committee or a headhunting firm to find its new CEO.

“I think that Dr. Penney Burlingame Deal is as well-qualified as any executive we could find,” Board Chairman Pat Alford said. “She has very close community ties, and she will continue to be a leader who understands the community and future opportunities.”

Contract details are not available yet. The board vote was to hire Burlingame Deal; there will be some negotiations, and a final agreement will be signed, Alford said.

The board had previously vetted Burlingame Deal for the top management position in case current CEO Ed Piper was unable to fulfill his duties, Alford said.

“The COO is groomed to become the CEO normally,” Alford said.

Piper is retiring July 1.

“This is also the story about a man (Piper) who dedicated his entire adult life to health care,” Alford said. “This is a time to celebrate a wonderful man who has given so much to the community,”

Burlingame Deal said she will use some of the leadership lessons she has learned from Piper.

“I have learned that you listen to the people around you and treat everyone with respect and be a leader in all regards,” Burlingame Deal said.