Memorial Health System’s board of directors announced today that CEO Dick Eitel will retire next year.

Vice President of Communications Rita Burns said that Eitel will leave his post as soon as a replacement is found.

The announcement came this afternoon during a regular monthly update to City Council.

“It’s just a notice of retirement,” Burns said. “So we don’t know when it’ll take place. It could be three months. It could be six months or nine months.”

Eitel has worked for Memorial for nearly 33 years. Burns said he retired in April 2003 as Chief Financial Officer and then came out of retirement three months later at the board’s request to replace retiring CEO Mike Schrader.

Burns said Eitel had always planned to remain CEO for a three- to five-year period while Memorial opened its new hospital, Memorial North, and its children’s hospital, which will open Dec. 14.

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“He wanted to ensure a smooth transition for the incoming CEO,” Burns said.