After much ado, Eastern Plumas Heath Care’s board unanimously named interim head Tom Hayes as its permanent chief executive officer. The board was meticulous in canvassing hospital staff and management, before coming to its decision. Board members also placed ads in the newspaper inviting community input.
At the Dec. 3 board meeting, the CEO discussion brought comment from audience member Pat Whitley, Sierra County supervisor, who was impressed with Hayes’ ability to bring people together. “The way he converses with people makes him a conduit for agreement. I encourage you absolutely to keep him. He hasn’t been here long, but he’s made a big impression—he lets us understand what the hospital does.”
Hospital auxiliary president Kathy Davis said she’d stopped by Nifty Thrifty before coming to the meeting, and the volunteer staff there said “Tell them to keep him!”
Davis added she feels the board and Hayes form a “really good working group. Why change what’s getting off to a good start?” she asked.
Chief of Staff Dr. Eric Bugna, said, “The doctors are all pleased and would like to keep him ... the whole staff is positive. They all said to keep him.”
Board member Lucie Kreth, who had returned from a recent conference of the Association of California Health Care Districts, where she met with other board members from small districts like EPHC, said, “I heard nothing but good things about Tom Hayes.” She added that people kept telling her, “You have Tom Hayes? Keep him!”
The board members, especially vice chairman Larry Fites, wanted to make certain they did their “due diligence.” He returned again to the other possible CEO options, including a management contract with Renown or St. Mary’s in Reno, Nev., and recruiting a CEO through a search firm.
To that, Lucie Kreth replied, “I spoke with the recruiter (at the ACHDC Conference). He said, ‘Keep Tom.’”
Newest board member Lester Premo asked Hayes if he would be working full time once he went permanent. “I don’t think you need to have a full-time CEO,” answered Hayes. “You don’t need to pay for it.”
Hayes explained his style of management involved encouraging staff to make their own decisions. “I want them to figure it out,” he said, adding he was happy to help them and to let them know that if they made a mistake, “nothing bad would happen.”
Finally, the board voted unanimously to hire Hayes as permanent CEO, with details of his contract “to be worked out,” said board chairwoman Gail McGrath.
Hayes was characteristically enthusiastic. “I enjoy working with all of you,” he said, adding the challenges are different in a small rural hospital than in the large hospital group he ran previously.
Turning to members, Hayes said he’d like to know their intentions in terms of staying on the board, because he wanted to see that commitment from them.
Lucie Kreth spoke for the group when she said, “We’re here until they vote us out.”
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