50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know

Becker's Hospital Review has named the following leaders to its inaugural list of "50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know."

 

These 50 presidents and CEOs have shown commitment to providing high-quality, accessible care to their patient populations and have approached the challenge of rural healthcare with great aplomb.

For this list, "rural" was defined as being located outside a major metropolitan area or healthcare hub. Leaders were selected based on a number of factors, including awards received; local, regional and national leadership positions held and their organization's recent performance. Nominations were also considered.

Note: Individuals cannot pay for inclusion on this list. Names are presented in alphabetical order.

Benjamin Anderson. Administrator and CEO of Kearny County Hospital (Lakin, Kan.). Mr. Anderson has served at the helm of Kearny County Hospital, about 230 miles outside Wichita, since June 2013. He was previously CEO of Ashland (Kan.) Health Center. He is largely responsible for the development of a unique paid time off program that allows employees up to eight weeks of PTO every year, which helps attract high-quality, mission-driven physicians and staff.

Douglas Arnold. President and CEO of Helen Keller Hospital (Sheffield, Ala.). Mr. Arnold took the reins at Helen Keller Hospital in July 2011. Prior to moving to Alabama, Mr. Arnold was a market CEO for Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems' Arkansas Hospitals. Since taking over at Helen Keller, he has focused on recruiting high-quality physicians to the 9,039-person town of Sheffield.

Karen Barber, RN. CEO of Yoakum (Texas) Community Hospital. Originally joining Yoakum Community Hospital as a nurse in 1992, Ms. Barber became CEO of the hospital in 2006. Since she took the helm, Yoakum Community Hospital has added physicians, new services and an electronic health record system. In 2010, she was awarded the Texas Hospital Association's Pioneer Award, which recognizes excellence in rural hospital management.

Arthur Blank. President and CEO of Mount Desert Island Hospital (Bar Harbor, Maine). Mr. Blank has been at the helm of Mount Desert Island Hospital, located on an island off the coast of Maine, since 1999. He helped the hospital gain critical access hospital designation. In June 2012, he became chair of the Maine Hospital Association board of directors.

Jay Christensen. CEO of Mahaska Health Partnership (Oskaloosa, Iowa). Mr. Christensen has served as CEO of Mahaska Health Partnership, a critical access hospital about 60 miles southeast of Des Moines, Iowa, since 1999. Mr. Christensen served on the board of the Iowa Hospital Association from 2002-2009 and chaired the board from 2007-2008. In 2013, he helped dramatically expand MHP's medical staff, recruiting five new physicians.

Nicole Clapp. President and CEO of Grant Regional Health Center (Lancaster, Wis.). Ms. Clapp became president and CEO of Grant Regional Health Center in April 2006. She originally joined the hospital in 1996 as quality improvement coordinator. She has also served as the hospital's vice president of professional services.

Marcia Dial. CEO of Scotland County Hospital (Memphis, Mo.). Ms. Dial has been at the helm of Scotland County Hospital since 1988 and has been with the hospital, situated near Missouri's northern boarder, for more than 38 years. In 2011, Ms. Dial received the Missouri Hospital Association's Visionary Leadership Award. In 2013, she received a Becker's Healthcare Leadership Award.

Vickie Diamond, RN. President and CEO of Wyoming Medical Center (Casper). Ms. Diamond has served as president and CEO of Wyoming Medical Center since February 2008. She also previously served as the hospital's interim CEO, COO, CNO and senior vice president of patient care services. She is currently serving on the American Hospital Association's board of trustees; her term will expire in 2015.

James Dickson. CEO of Copper Queen Community Hospital (Bisbee, Ariz.). Mr. Dickson heads Copper Queen Community Hospital, a 14-bed critical access hospital roughly 92 miles southeast of Tucson, Ariz. In 2011, Mr. Dickson received the Shirley Ann Munroe Award from the American Hospital Association. The award recognizes accomplished small or rural hospital leaders, and Mr. Dickson received the honor for expanding healthcare access by operating three rural health clinics beyond the hospital's main campus.

Desiree Einsweiler. Administrator and CEO of Palo Alto County Health System (Emmetsburg, Iowa). Ms. Einsweiler became CEO of Palo Alto County Health System, a 25-bed critical access hospital, in 2012 when she was just 29 years old. She previously served as interim CEO of Mitchell County Regional Health Center in Osage, Iowa, and as regional clinic director of Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City.

Charlie Fahd. CEO of Massena (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital. Mr. Fahd has served as CEO of Massena Memorial Hospital, located in northern New York near the Canadian border, since 1997. His contract was renewed in 2012 and runs through 2014. In May, Massena Memorial opened a $3.9 million medical office building that houses physicians, surgeons and a phlebotomy center.

Dennis Franks. CEO of Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center (Chanute, Kan.). Mr. Franks has led Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, the largest critical access hospital in the state, since 2006. Among Mr. Franks' many accomplishments, he implemented the Hello Yellow program at NMRMC, a fall reduction and community awareness program that garnered statewide praise. In 2012, he was a finalist for the American Hospital Association's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award, which recognizes excellence and innovation in rural healthcare leadership. In 2013, he was a recipient of the American Hospital Association's Grassroots Champion Award, recognizing his leadership in community activity supportive of his hospital's mission.

John Gardner. CEO of Yuma (Colo.) District Hospital. Mr. Gardner was named interim CEO of Yuma District Hospital in January 2007 and took the position permanently in April 2007. He has helped Yuma District Hospital embrace a patient-centered medical home model through the use of care teams and care navigators. In 2013, he was a recipient of the American Hospital Association's Grassroots Champion Award, recognizing his leadership in community activity supportive of his hospital's mission.

Rachel Gonzales, RN. CEO of Madison Memorial Hospital (Rexburg, Idaho). Ms. Gonzales became CEO of Madison Memorial Hospital, which is situated about 310 miles east of Boise and 240 miles north of Salt Lake City, in April 2012. Last year, she received the Medical Professional of the Year award from the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce and was named to Becker's Hospital Review's list of 120 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know.

Roger Hall. President of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast (Miramar Beach, Fla.) and Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf (Port St. Joe, Fla.). Mr. Hall became president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast in 2002, when it was under construction. In 2008, he also became president of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf, which opened in 2010. Since the Port St. Joe hospital opened, it has expanded to include multiple medical offices in neighboring cities.

Margot Hartmann, MD, PhD. President and CEO of Nantucket (Mass.) Cottage Hospital. Dr. Hartmann has served as president and CEO of Nantucket Cottage Hospital since October 2010. During her time at the helm of the hospital, which is located on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, she helped the hospital overcome $7.5 million in operating losses and introduced a telemedicine program. She was named "person of the year" by Nantucket Magazine in 2012.

Raymond Hino. CEO of Bear Valley Community Healthcare District (Big Bear Lake, Calif.). Mr. Hino was named interim CEO of Bear Valley Community Hospital in December 2012 and became the permanent CEO July 1, 2013. During his short time as CEO, Mr. Hino began the critical access hospital designation process and implemented a financial plan of corrections, resulting in total savings of $1.5 million in roughly seven months, among other accomplishments.

Robert Houser. CEO of Blue Mountain Hospital District (John Day, Ore.). Mr. Houser heads Blue Mountain Hospital District, a nonprofit organization consisting of a 25-bed hospital in John Day and a 48-bed nursing home in Prairie City, Ore.

Tim Jakacki. President of ProMedica Bixby and Herrick Hospitals (Adrian and Tecumseh, Mich.). As CEO of two ProMedica hospitals in southeast Michigan, Mr. Jakacki has more than 35 years of healthcare experience. Prior to his current position, he served as president of Defiance (Ohio) Regional Medical Center and Fostoria (Ohio) Community Hospital for three years. He is a member of the Michigan Hospital Association Legislative Policy Committee and a past chair of the Small and Rural Hospital Committee of the Ohio Hospital Association.

Jay Johnson. President and CEO of Duncan (Okla.) Regional Hospital. Mr. Johnson became president and CEO of Duncan Regional Hospital, located about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City, in 2010. Prior to joining the 192-bed nonprofit community hospital, he was senior vice president and COO of Mercy Memorial Health Center in Ardmore, Okla.

Doug Jones. CEO of Down East Community Hospital (Machias, Maine). Mr. Jones became CEO of Down East Community Hospital in 2011 after serving as interim CEO. He previously served as president and CEO of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth. The hospital includes services not often found in 25-bed rural facilities; for example, it offers urology, a sleep lab and several minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries like splenectomies and hysterectomies. It was the first hospital in Maine to obtain a digital mammography unit.

Maureen Kahn, RN, MSN. President and CEO of Blessing Hospital (Quincy, Ill.). Since 2005, Ms. Kahn has led Blessing Hospital, located 137 miles north of St. Louis up the Mississippi. Under her leadership, the community-owned hospital has become a Magnet Hospital for nursing excellence, as well as a national chest pain center, a primary stroke center and an Institute for Healthcare Improvement Mentor Hospital.

Steve Kelly. President and CEO of Newton (Kan.) Medical Center. Mr. Kelly has served at the helm of Newton Medical Center since 2000. During his tenure, he has overseen the implementation of an electronic medical records system, and the hospital's annual revenues have more than tripled. Mr. Kelly has received local recognition of his work: In 2000, he was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce. On a state level, Mr. Kelly is chairman of the Governor's Task Force, which examines changes to the state's Medicaid program.

Harold Krueger Jr. CEO of Chadron (Neb.) Community Hospital & Healthcare Services. Mr. Krueger has led Chadron Community Hospital & Healthcare Services for more than 20 years. He founded the Rural Health Care Association with eight other critical access hospitals and a tertiary care facility to promote high level care and communications. In 2012, Mr. Krueger was a finalist for the American Hospital Association's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award, which recognizes excellence and innovation among rural healthcare leaders.

Michael K. Lally. CEO of Calais (Maine) Regional Hospital. Mr. Lally was named CEO of Calais Regional Hospital in December 2008. The 25-bed hospital serves an approximate population of 14,000. Prior to joining the hospital, situated close to the Canadian border, Mr. Lally was director of clinical business affairs for The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Robert Letson. CEO of South Peninsula Hospital (Homer, Alaska). Mr. Letson joined South Peninsula Hospital as CEO in 2008. The hospital is more than 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, near the Gulf of Alaska. In 2013, Mr. Letson received the American Hospital Association's Grassroots Champions Award for his leadership in creating local activity in support of his hospital's mission.

Todd C. Linden. President and CEO of Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center. Mr. Linden joined Grinnell Regional Medical Center in 1994. With Mr. Linden at the helm, the hospital has tripled its medical staff, added a new medical office building, built new community outreach clinics and created a fitness and rehab center, to name just a few improvements. He has served as chair of the Iowa Telemedicine Advisory Council and served on the American Hospital Association's board of trustees from 2000 to 2005, among other appointments.

William Mahone. President and CEO of Halifax Regional Medical Center (Roanoke Rapids, N.C.). Mr. Mahone became president and CEO of Halifax Regional Medical Center in December 2005. The hospital is about eight miles from the Virginia state line. Mr. Mahone previously served as president and CEO of Smyth County Community Hospital in Marion, Va. He has more than 25 years of healthcare administration experience in Virginia and North Carolina.

Michelle McEwen, CPA. President and CEO of Speare Memorial Hospital (Plymouth, N.H.). Ms. McEwen has served as CEO of Speare Memorial Hospital since June 2000. Under her leadership, the hospital became one of only eight critical access hospitals nationwide to receive the National Rural Health Resource Center Recognition for Quality Award for excellence and innovation in healthcare in 2013.

Ray Montgomery III. President and CEO of White County Medical Center (Searcy, Ark.). Mr. Montgomery is president and CEO of White County Medical Center, a 438-bed hospital about 50 miles north of Little Rock. He has been with the hospital for more than 20 years. In 2012, he was elected to the board of directors for the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care. In that role, he also represents AFMC on the Arkansas Hospital Association's board of directors.

Ben Moore III. President and CEO of River Hospital (Alexandra, N.Y.). Mr. Moore became CEO of River Hospital, a critical access hospital near the Canadian border in northern New York State, in 2006. In 2012, he helped the hospital launch an intensive outpatient program for Fort Drum soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, thus reducing soldiers' need for hospitalization. He has served on the board of directors of the Fort Drum Regional Planning Organization, which links military families to health services in the region.

Tommy Mullins. CEO of Boone Memorial Hospital (Madison, W.Va.). Mr. Mullins has been with Boone Memorial Hospital since 1964, when he was a bookkeeper at the newly opened hospital. He oversaw the hospital's 2012 transition from a county-owned hospital to a community-operated nonprofit entity. He is a founding member of the WV Hospital Association-Committee for Small Rural Hospitals. He is also a founding member of the Small Rural Task Force for The Joint Commission.

Dan Odegaard. CEO of Bigfork (Minn.) Valley Hospital. Mr. Odegaard has served as CEO of Bigfork Valley Hospital, located about 124 miles northwest of Duluth, Minn., since 2003. Under his leadership, the critical access hospital has made national headlines for high-quality, patient-centered care. For instance, in 2012, the hospital was a top performer in iVantage's Patient Perspective Index, which ranks hospital performance based on two HCAHPS measures: overall rating and percentage of patients who would highly recommend the hospital. Bigfork was also one of the 49 cleanest hospitals in 2013, according to HCAHPS.

Becky Pape. CEO of Samaritan Lebanon (Ore.) Community Hospital. Ms. Pape became CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, situated about 80 miles south of Portland, in 2004. Under her leadership, the hospital added a healing garden, a center for infusion patients and a health career and training center. In 2013, Ms. Pape was a recipient of the American Hospital Association's Grassroots Champion Award, recognizing her leadership in creating grassroots and community activity in support of her hospital's mission.

Larry Price. CEO of Limestone Medical Center (Groesbeck, Texas). Mr. Price was named CEO of Limestone Medical Center in October 2012, but he has been with the 20-bed critical access hospital since 1982. He was previously LMC's COO, a position he held for seven years. In 2012, Mr. Price received the Essence of Leadership Award from the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals. The award recognizes individuals for their outstanding leadership, service and contributions to healthcare.

Chandler M. Ralph. President and CEO of Adirondack Health (Saranac Lake, N.Y.). Since 1995, Ms. Ralph has served at the helm of Adirondack Health — a system with two hospital sites, two nursing homes and four primary care outreach clinics. In 2006, she was the New York State recipient of the American Hospital Association's Grassroots Champion Award for her work generating community activity supporting Adirondack's mission. She is also active in the local community, having been a member of the Saranac Lake Rotary since 1995 and having become a board member of the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York in 2013.

Steven Rose, RN, MSN. President and CEO of Nanticoke Health Services (Seaford, Del.). Mr. Rose leads Nanticoke Health Services, which is comprised of a 99-bed rural, community hospital and Nanticoke Physician Network. Mr. Rose has led the hospital through a health IT initiative, investing in a new electronic medical record and obtaining meaningful use level 2. In 2013, he was elected to the board of trustees of the American Hospital Association for a three-year term beginning in 2014. He is the first Delawarean ever named to AHA's board of trustees.

Christina Ryan. CEO of The Women's Hospital (Newburgh, Ind.). Ms. Ryan has been with The Women's Hospital since 1999, when she was recruited by Evansville, Ind.-based Deaconess Health System — Women's parent — to help with the hospital's initial plans, construction and opening. Ms. Ryan has received several awards recognizing her leadership abilities, including the Health and Social Services Individual Award from Leadership Evansville.

Maria Ryan, PhD, APRN. CEO of Cottage Hospital (Woodsville, N.H.). Dr. Ryan first joined Cottage Hospital in November 2006 as CNO and COO. She became CEO of the hospital in February 2010. Under her leadership, Cottage Hospital became the first critical access hospital in New Hampshire to achieve CMS Stage 1 meaningful use certification for its electronic health records in July 2011.

Keith Safian. President and CEO of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.). Mr. Safian has been at the helm of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, about 26 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, since 1989. Under his leadership, the hospital has grown from a $40 million operating budget to $200 million, and from 800 employees to more than 1,600. Mr. Safian has overseen major expansions, including a new emergency department and medical services building.

Mike Schafer. Administrator and CEO of Spooner (Wis.) Health System. Mr. Schafer is the head of Spooner Health System in northwestern Wisconsin, which consists of a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency room and a home care department. In addition to leading SHS, Mr. Schafer is also a Wisconsin Hospital Association delegate for the American Hospital Association, a post he will hold through 2014.

Rob Schmitt, CPA. CEO of Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services (Gibson City, Ill.). Mr. Schmitt joined GAHHS in 2002 as CFO. He was promoted to CEO in 2007. GAHHS includes Gibson Area Hospital, the only critical access hospital in the nation with 100 percent of its emergency room nurses certified in emergency medicine, according to the hospital. Under Mr. Schmitt's leadership, GAHHS was the sole recipient of the Quality Award from the National Rural Health Association in 2013.

Rick Schroeder. Administrator and CEO of North Big Horn Hospital (Lovell, Wyo.). Mr. Schroeder serves as CEO and administrator of North Big Horn Hospital, a 15-bed critical access hospital about 90 miles south of Billings, Mont. He is the president and chair of the board of the Wyoming Critical Access Hospital Network.

Bryan Slaba. Administrator and CEO of Wagner (S.D.) Community Memorial Hospital-Avera. Mr. Slaba has led Wagner Community Memorial Hospital-Avera since May 2008. He championed a "Grow Your Own" project to keep local talent in Wagner, and he also implemented a telemedicine service at the 20-bed critical access hospital to improve patient management and safety. In 2012 and 2011, he was a finalist for the American Hospital Association's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award, which recognizes accomplishments and innovative efforts of small or rural hospital leaders.

Brad Solberg. CEO of Hammond-Henry Hospital (Geneseo, Ill.). Mr. Solberg has served as CEO of Hammond-Henry Hospital, located about 154 miles west of Chicago, for about 12 years. Throughout his career, Mr. Solberg has held leadership roles at hospitals in Ohio, Michigan and North Dakota. In 2013, he was elected to the board of directors of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network.

Susan Starling. President and CEO of Marcum & Wallace Memorial Hospital (Irvine, Ky.). Ms. Starling joined Marcum & Wallace Memorial in 1991 as COO and took on her current role in 2001. She has helped establish community lung and breast cancer screening programs during her time leading the critical access hospital. In 2013, she received the American Hospital Association's Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award, which recognizes accomplishments of small or rural hospital leaders.

Philip Stuart. CEO of Tomah (Wis.) Memorial Hospital. Mr. Stuart serves at the helm of Tomah Memorial Hospital, located about 100 miles northwest of Madison, Wis., and roughly 170 miles southeast of Minneapolis. He is currently serving his second term as a regional director for the Wisconsin Hospital Association's western region. Under his leadership, the hospital was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital by iVantage Health Analytics in 2013.

Mary Sweet. Administrator of Kiowa County Memorial Hospital (Greensburg, Kan.). Ms. Sweet serves as administrator of Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, a 15-bed critical access hospital about 110 miles west of Wichita, Kan. In 2007, the hospital was destroyed by a massive tornado. Under Ms. Sweet's leadership, the hospital was rebuilt and became the first LEED platinum certified critical access hospital in the nation.

Al Vogt. Administrator and CEO of Cook (Minn.) Hospital. Mr. Vogt originally joined Cook Hospital in northern Minnesota in 1976 as a lab supervisor. He became CEO in 1989. In 2013, he was named Rural Health Hero at the Minnesota Rural Health Conference for his rural health advocacy efforts. Mr. Vogt helped form the Minnesota Wilderness Health Care Coalition, a group of northeastern Minnesota hospitals that promotes accessible healthcare.

Debra Wright, RN. CEO of Howard Memorial Hospital (Nashville, Ark.). Ms. Wright became CEO of Howard Memorial Hospital, a 20-bed critical access hospital roughly halfway between Dallas and Little Rock, in November 2009. Under her leadership, the hospital was named as one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation by iVantage Health Analytics in 2013.

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