Hiring CEO, finding a partner are first orders of business for Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital

Hiring CEO, finding a partner are first orders of business for Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The financially strapped Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital has had at least four CEOs, off and on, since 2013.

Now the latest interim CEO is resigning after only two and a half months on the job.

A leader is critical for the hospital, its patients, and the community it serves.

Interim Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital CEO Steve Smith let the board know from the beginning what his intentions were when he took the job.

“I told them, ‘If it all fell in place here it could be a great opportunity,’" Smith said.

However, it didn’t all fall into place. A better career move came along. Smith’s last day is Feb. 3.

The short stint brought improved financial status. In addition, board members began talking more seriously about partnering with another health system. Smith says both will catch the interest of prospective CEO applicants.

“As those discussions get deeper and you understand who that partner is going to be, what that future looks like, it’s going to start defining the CEO’s role in much clearer terms,” Smith said.

"We really need that partner," said Rhonda McCabe, the hospital’s chief financial officer.

McCabe will likely be named interim CEO. She knows the numbers of an initial $11-million debt. A partner could lease the hospital and run operations.

“That’s everyone’s concern - what is going to happen to the hospital tomorrow?" McCabe said. “And so, with a partner that will just set everyone’s mind at ease that we are their health care provider now in the future.”

Then there’s the hospital board, which has three new members. Division surfaced immediately with the 5-2 vote to elect Anita Kite as the board president.

“I think that it is good to have discussion and debate and that having three new board members, especially being as young as those three new members are, has just been incredible, Kite said. “They’re all so smart.”

Disagreement surfaces, but Kite said the board agrees on the danger of micromanagement, something that can happen when top administrative leadership is missing.

" We do not want to micromanage and will not micromanage," Kite said. “That it is our job to find someone who will do the job for us and do a good job for us.”

Smith won’t be the candidate. He wants the one selected to recognize the determination of certain hospital stakeholders.

“You know they’ve weathered some storms over those 90 years," Smith said. “And they’ve got the right heart to figure this one out, too.”

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