RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The CEO of WakeMed Health & Hospitals is leaving his post after the board of directors cited differences in the future direction of the organization.

Bill Atkinson, who has been CEO since 2003, met with board leaders Wednesday night and agreed to leave before Oct. 1, the start of the hospital's new fiscal year.

Board chairman William McBride said in a statement that there are going to be new challenges for WakeMed, and that the board looks forward to welcoming a new leader.

An interim CEO has not been named. Hospital leaders say they plan to conduct a national search for Atkinson's replacement.

Atkinson's departure follows several tumultuous years. The system has faced competition from rival Rex Hospital as well as a federal investigation into its billings practice.

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