Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hospital hopes to fill open top job by June

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Staff Writer | 2/12/2014

The search for a new chief administrator to guide Ransom Memorial Hospital is under way.

Fortune, a Columbia, Mo., firm that specializes in recruiting hospital administrators and other medical professionals, has been hired by the Ottawa-based hospital’s board of trustees to conduct the search for a new chief executive officer to succeed Larry Felix, Phil Gibson, Ransom board president, said. Felix announced his retirement in late January.

The search for a new chief administrator to guide Ransom Memorial Hospital is under way.

Fortune, a Columbia, Mo., firm that specializes in recruiting hospital administrators and other medical professionals, has been hired by the Ottawa-based hospital’s board of trustees to conduct the search for a new chief executive officer to succeed Larry Felix, Phil Gibson, Ransom board president, said. Felix announced his retirement in late January.

The hospital board met Tuesday to discuss the recruitment process. Felix plans to retire Feb. 28 after 14 years as the CEO of the hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, capping a 41-year career in the health care profession.

“[Fortune] will narrow the search down to four or five candidates that they will send to us, and then those candidates will come here to visit the hospital and be interviewed [by the board],” Gibson, who also is owner of Gibson Electric LLC, Ottawa, said. “Our goal is to complete the process and hire a new CEO by the last of June.”

Under Felix’s tenure, the hospital went through a multi-phase, $9 million renovation project that began in November 2009. Ransom was able to complete the work without taking on any debt, hospital officials noted.

Board members said after Felix announced his retirement the new CEO would have big shoes to fill.

“The hospital’s losing a great leader,” Keith Gaeddert, hospital board member, said, adding Felix would be difficult to replace.

The new chief executive officer will have the advantage of operating a hospital with upgraded facilities and services, but will face the challenges of doing so during tough economic times for the health care industry, according to industry reports. The monthly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated health care employment dropped by 6,000 jobs in December — the first time the health care sector had seen a monthly dip in more than a decade.

Felix told U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran on the Kansas Republican’s visit to the hospital Jan. 20 that rising costs associated with health care reforms brought on by the Affordable Care Act and other regulatory initiatives have hurt Ransom Memorial Hospital and other medical centers across the country.

“In the last decade, we’ve improved facilities and equipment without acquiring debt, so I feel like we are in as good a position as we can be to weather this, but I’m concerned not only about this place, but for all hospitals,” Felix told Moran.

Felix had been contemplating early retirement for the past year, he said in late January, but held off on announcing his future plans until after he had completed several major projects and crafted a 2014 budget.

“I wanted to see the hospital through its construction [renovation project] and that was just completed with its new MRI unit,” Felix said. “We now have a strategic plan that goes through 2016, and I wanted to see the hospital through its three-year Joint Commission accreditation process, which was completed in December.”

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