Robert Regan will retire at year's end as president and chief executive of Prince William Health System, after serving in the job for five years.

Regan's announcement Monday comes soon after he guided the system through a fiery period when trustees considered selling Prince William Hospital to Universal Health Services Inc., a national health-care chain.

The Prince William Health System board of trustees voted unanimously in March to remain an independent, community-based hospital rather than become part of a larger health system.

"As Prince William Health System enters a new period of transition, this is an appropriate time for new leadership to help the system take its next steps into the future," Regan, 62, said in a statement released Monday.

The trustees voted earlier this year to reorganize the Prince William Hospital board so that two governing boards -- Prince William Health System and Prince William Hospital -- would become one. The trustees also decided to conduct an evaluation of the health system's management structure and governance, including term limits and expansion of services offered at the hospital, with an evaluation of the prices for services at the hospital.

Health system officials said they entered negotiations with Universal last year because of the hospital's deteriorating financial situation, caused by managed care. Officials have not completely ruled out future negotiations, stating that if the financial status or quality of care at the hospital is jeopardized, they still might consider selling it.

Regan, who pushed for the merger with Universal, ultimately voted against the sale in March. He said he remained concerned about the hospital's future.

Retirement comes for Regan after 18 years of working with Prince William Hospital. He became a trustee for the hospital in 1981 and was appointed chairman of the Prince William Hospital Corp. board when it was formed in 1984. He became president and chief executive in 1994.

Regan, an obstetrician, came to Manassas in 1970. He has delivered more than 6,000 babies at Prince William Hospital and has overseen the expansions of the Prince William Wellness Center, the emergency department and the outpatient dialysis services. He also helped implement psychiatric services for adolescents and the construction of medical office buildings in Manassas and Gainesville.

The decision to remain an independent hospital has spurred plans to help solidify the hospital's future.

"We have begun planning for a new long-term care facility; we are continuing the remodeling of the hospital inpatients areas; and we are beginning plans for new services in surgery, cancer treatment and cardiology," Regan said in his statement.

The trustees have retained a national search company to help find Regan's replacement.