Linda Jameson, Plumas District Hospital’s chief nursing officer/risk manager, was recently appointed interim chief executive officer. During the same meeting, the board signed a severance agreement with outgoing CEO Dick Hathaway.
Business as usual
The day after Hathaway’s severance was signed, hospital officials held a series of employee meetings to explain the transition.
Hathaway made farewell comments and told of his future plans.
Jameson was introduced as the interim CEO. She made some introductory comments indicating she hoped to serve as a “bridge to what we are doing next.”
Once the meetings were over, Hathaway left and Jameson jumped in with both feet she said. There was no plan for a transition period during which Hathaway and Jameson would work together.
As part of his severance agreement, Hathaway is expected to provide consulting services and a transition memo with “recommendations on critical short-term issues facing PDH, decisions that need to be made, and staffing issues.” There was no deadline on the memorandum
Jameson said that some have suggested her new job must be a burden. To the contrary, she said, “I’m quite capable of doing this and I’m delighted.”
She said, further, that she’s been overseeing many of the day-to-day operations, as well as steering service expansion efforts “for awhile.”
As Jameson discussed the future of PDH, she said she needed to work with the board to come up with a plan for what they’ll do with the post-Measure B bond money and the building project.
No new building will be in that plan as far as she’s concerned. Instead, PDH needs to look at the old building and determine what needs immediate repairs.
She is already familiar with some of its weaknesses: faulty heating to patient rooms, sewer problems and other infrastructure issues.
Jameson plans to consult with Facilities Director Dan Brandes to determine what needs to be done. She knows repairing the old building will be an expensive endeavor.
Jameson wants the board and administration to take a collective breath, and not rush ahead in first one direction, then another.
Jameson is matter of fact about where they are: “The public has spoken. The public has told us for the next phase very clearly, we need to reign in and come up with a better plan. That is self-evident.”
Turning to her nursing experience, Jameson likens a patient crisis to the current hospital crisis. You change course; bring in the experts; talk with the patient and his family and you come up with a new plan.
In the hospital’s case, Jameson said they have to ask, “What’s broken and what needs to be fixed? How do we attack this problem and come up with the best outcome? And, the best outcome for the hospital is the best outcome for the community, as well.”
The board and administration have yet to meet and begin to work through those problems, and Jameson is anxious that they do that.
Jameson wants to repair the hospital’s damaged relationship with the community.“I think that what the community is looking for from our board and leadership is transparency in answering and responding to the questions presented to us. Remove the mistrust that we have. If I could do anything, I’d like to see people re-establish trust with us.”
Jameson and the board need to be on the same page, with a clear idea of the way they go, including a determination of what role Eastern Plumas Health Care’s CEO Tom Hayes might have.
Jameson also understands the role of a CEO is to make some decisions, while the board makes others. She recently met with Hayes to determine “the viability of what Tom can do.”
“I’m a ‘Let’s go the logical way. Let’s get the map out and look at directions. Because, truly … we’re not even using a map. We’re just driving.”
Jameson hasn’t decided whether or not she would like to be considered the permanent CEO. She feels lucky to get to have a trial run, “to see if it’s a fit or not.”
She feels that, since she’s committed to the organization, the CEO job is a natural extension of her work there. “I doubt that I’ll say I don’t like this ... I’m so much of an optimist. I’ve learned to be a survivor.”
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