North Dakota health system names interim CEO months after 2 executives leave

Grand Forks, N.D.-based Altru Health System has tapped Dave Molmen to serve as interim CEO following the departures of CEO Brad Wehe and CFO Sara Lusignan.

Mr. Molmen will serve as interim CEO through June 2021 as part of a president and CEO dyad leadership model, Altru said. He has declined to receive a salary for the position through the rest of this year, and the board will begin a formal search for a permanent CEO in January.

"As we navigate an ever-changing industry and an immediate need for transformation, Dave's experience as Altru's CEO for 11 years and his connections in the community give him the ability to step into this role immediately and effectively," the health system's president, Steven Weiser, MD, said in a news release. "I am pleased to welcome Dave to our executive team and look forward to working together as we undergo a crucial re-design of our organization." 

Mr. Molmen's appointment comes after Mr.  Wehe and Ms.Lusignan left the health system in February. Altru did not provide reasons for their departures.

Board Vice Chairman Lonnie Laffen told the Herald in February: "It's not criminal, it's not personal, it's not any of that. But we need to be positioned for the changing healthcare future, and that's what we’re doing. Healthcare is changing quickly."

After the departures, Craig Faerber, former CFO of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, joined the organization as interim CFO, and Dr. Weiser took on all leadership responsibilities.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Altru  faced financial challenges, primarily due to expenses related to a new planned hospital, according to the Herald. Amid more financial strain related to the pandemic, the health system laid off 167 employees in April. It also paused construction on a new hospital, reduced staffing hours and cut executive pay.

Mr. Laffen said the model of a physician president and CEO dyad "positions us for success," and Mr. Molmen and Dr. Weiser "have complementary strengths that will serve them well as they partner to lead Altru over the next year."


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