OTTAWA -- Dr. Jack Kitts received a standing ovation from staff as he walked out of The Ottawa Hospital for the last time as President and CEO.

Dr. Kitts officially retired on Friday after more than 18 years as head of Ottawa's largest hospital. Dr. Kitts announced last summer that he would retire in June 2020.

In a statement posted to The Ottawa Hospital website, Dr. Kitts said "To all of you who have come to The Ottawa Hospital in a time of need, thank you for putting your trust in us."

"To those who have shared your experience at the hospital with me, your insights have made us better. To the donors, volunteers, patient advisors and committee members, your support has been and remains essential."

Dr. Kitts joined the medical staff at the Ottawa Hospital in 1988, and was named President and CEO in October 2001. Dr. Kitts was appointed to the Order of Canada.

"I will always cherish how you have supported and celebrated our staff over the years – and especially in the past few months. It warms my heart to know that you are there for them, as they are there for you," said Dr. Kitts.

"Looking ahead, with your support, we will build a 21st century hospital that reflects the community's vision, supports a healthier city and values kindness, compassion, research and innovation."

Cameron Love will succeed Dr. Kitts as president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital. Love has worked with The Ottawa Hospital since 1998, and was previously executive vice-president and COO.

According to the Ottawa Hospital website, Love has been responsible for "the leadership and oversight of all programs and services across the hospital, as well as the ongoing development of the new 21st-century hospital to replace the Civic Campus."