St. Charles CEO abruptly resigns amid layoffs

Joe Sluka has resigned as president and CEO of Bend, Ore.-based St. Charles Health System amid the organization's financial struggles, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Mr. Sluka announced the news July 12.

"I am so proud of this organization and the more than 4,500 employees who put their hearts into caring for our communities every single day. This is a very difficult decision," he said in a news release. "At the same time, after leading through more than two years of a global pandemic and the corresponding recovery, I feel it is time for me to step aside, recharge and provide the opportunity for new operational leaders to guide St. Charles forward."

Mr. Sluka became president and CEO of St. Charles in December 2014, after serving as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Regional Health in Rapid City, S.D.

Under his leadership, the four-hospital health system has moved to the Epic EHR platform, expanded and remodeled St. Charles Madras and St. Charles Prineville campuses and expanded services in Redmond, Ore., including robotic surgery, among other accomplishments, according to the release.

St. Charles said the health system has selected Steve Gordon, MD, a former St. Charles board of directors member, as interim CEO, and Mr. Sluka will move to an adviser position at the health system. 

Mr. Sluka's resignation comes as St. Charles has struggled financially. In May, the health system cited those struggles when it announced it would lay off 105 caregivers and eliminate 76 vacant positions. St. Charles said it ended April with a $21.8 million loss.

St. Charles board Chairman Jamie Orlikoff told Oregon Public Broadcasting that Mr. Sluka's resignation was unrelated to the health system's financial difficulties.

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