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Memorial Medical Center gets new interim executive team, search continues for permanent leaders

By By JJ Velasquez - jvelasquez@vicad.com
March 30, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.

Duane Coulter

NEW LEADERS

In other board business, new officers were nominated and approved Tuesday. The officers, beginning April 1 and ending March 31, 2011, will be:

Board chairman: Bob Bonar

Board vice chairman: Russell Cain

Board secretary: D.J. Williams

PORT LAVACA - Two months ago, the Memorial Medical Center board nearly cleaned house in its executive team.

Tuesday, the board introduced interim administrators who hope to revive the hospital financially.

Interim chief executive officer Jeanne Goche and interim chief financial officer Duane Coulter are working to stabilize the hospital's operations after it almost ran out of cash reserves.

"We've got a very steep hill to climb," said John Self, who was hired by the board to help with the search for new administrators. "And it's very doable. There's not anything here that's not fixable. It's just going to take some time."

Goche was hired in early March and appointed Coulter to replace the previous interim CFO Gerald Hennessey, who was hired in February.

Goche and Coulter had previously worked together on interim assignments in Sheldon, Iowa.

Goche will likely serve 90 days before a permanent CEO is hired, Self said.

He added that Coulter may serve longer because hiring a chief financial officer tends to take longer.

Goche said at Tuesday's meeting that Hennessey was a "fine CFO" but that his experience was in bigger hospitals with larger staffs. He lacked the skill set needed to help with the full-scale transition the hospital is undergoing, she said.

She said her goal is to improve the finances of the hospital, while boost worker morale, reeling during the influx of administrators and the hospital's financial struggles.

But Goche won't make sweeping changes. She said the hospital already has a solid foundation that the interim team will reinforce while reducing costs and introducing new revenue streams.

"I'm so excited for this organization and for this community," she said. "You have the foundations for success. I keep having that validated everyday."

Former CEO David Contreras fired the last permanent chief financial officer Rhett Fricke in January. Almost a month later, the board fired Contreras, capping a six-month term in which the hospital grappled with financial woes.

In November, Memorial Medical Center wrote a $785,000 check to Medicare because the federal government found that the hospital was overpaid in 2007 and 2008.

The public hospital was left cash-strapped and forced to borrow $500,000 from the county, which funds it.

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