California hospital board eliminates interim CEO's job at his suggestion

The Northern Inyo Healthcare District board of directors voted unanimously April 19 to enter into a six-month contract with CFO Stephen DelRossi to assume the role of interim CEO, a hospital spokesperson confirmed to Becker's

The 5-0 vote comes after current Interim CEO Lionel "Chad" Chadwick, PhD, proposed elevating Mr. DelRossi to interim CEO for at least six months. 

"As I've told the team, there are no sacred cows," Dr. Chadwick said in a news release about the district's cost-cutting measures prior to the vote. 

The district, which operates a 25-bed critical access hospital in Bishop, Calif., negotiated with Mr. DelRossi, and since an agreement was reached, Dr. Chadwick's role will be eliminated.

Barbara Laughon, a spokesperson for the district, said the contract with Mr. DelRossi begins at 5 p.m. May 1. Mr. DelRossi's  annual salary will be $371,571.20 for service as interim CEO and continuing his existing role as CFO.

Mr. DelRossi's contract can be extended in one-month increments as needed, Ms. Laughon added.

Ms. Laughon also noted that the contract was initially presented for a one-year term. She said board members "expressed concern for the amount of work Mr. DelRossi was assuming. After a brief discussion, they amended the contract to the six-month period with periodic reviews as warranted."

Mr. DelRossi will lead the executive team as CFO and interim CEO alongside Allison Partridge, MSN, RN, who holds dual roles as chief nursing officer and interim COO, and Interim Chief Medical Officer Stefan Schunk, MD.

In addition to the leadership changes, the healthcare district announced it would eliminate about 15 positions, or less than 4 percent of its 460-member workforce, by April 21.

The layoffs include nonclinical roles within support and administration, according to a news release shared with Becker's earlier this month. No further details were provided about specific positions affected. 

The district — which also includes a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, a rehabilitation services center, and various clinics — said severance, and in a few cases, job relocation at a lower pay rate within the district, will be offered to affected workers. 

"Our focus steadfastly remains on delivering quality care for the community," Dr. Chadwick said in the release. "To that extent, no positions in direct patient care are being reduced. However, it should be noted the district has made great efforts to reduce the number of contracted traveling nurses within our operations, providing substantial cost savings."

The district cited financial strain from the effects of the pandemic, high inflation, low Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, and labor shortages as contributing factors. 

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