The Madison Valley Medical Center has hired a new CEO and appointed one of their physicians to chief of staff, changes that signify some stability at a facility that’s seen quite a bit of change during the past couple of years.
Loren Jacobson was promoted from chief financial officer to CEO last month after Tom Mitchell, who had served for about a year as the interim CEO, moved back to Utah, said Dottie Fossel, chairperson of the medical center’s board of directors.
Mitchell was hired last December when the board of directors hired Cypress Health Systems to manage the medical center. Cypress specializes in managed rural critical access centers like the MVMC.
Mitchell was brought on to bring stability to the medical center, which was struggling with its budget and recruiting doctors and medical staff. The new medical center opened in March of 2009, and struggled for the first year both financially and through a turn over of their medical staff.
However, Mitchell and Cypress helped guide the medical center to solid ground – stabilizing the budget and bringing on new medical staff, Fossel said.
“We had the finances more stabilized and we had medical staff in place and things were going well,” she said. “It was time for (Mitchell) to go back to Cedar City where his family is.”
Jacobson was hired earlier this year with the notion that he would take over as CEO once Mitchell moved on. In the interim, Jacobson served as business manager under retired CFO Pete Brekhus. When Brekhus retired this summer, Jacobson transitioned to CFO. Now he’s moved up to the top executive post at the medical center.
Jacobson comes with a wealth of experience. He spent 31 years with the administration of St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula and most recently was involved in consulting with hospitals in San Francisco and Arizona.
The MVMC is really an amazing facility for a rural community like Ennis, Jacobson said.
“This facility and the way it’s been equipped, is, in my opinion, as fine of facility as you can find in this size of community anywhere in the country,” he said.
This past year, the medical center has been working to bring the staffing and operations up to snuff, Jacobson said.
“I’d say this past year has been about meshing the operations with this great facility we have,” he said.
Until now, the medical center has been able to give very little attention to cultivating leadership within the organization, Jacobson said. That’s changing now.
Besides Jacobson, Dr. R.D. Marks is also a key piece of the leadership at the medical center. Marks was promoted to chief of staff in October and while Jacobson essentially oversees the administration of the medical center, Marks is in charge of the medical operations.
From the medical operations standpoint, the outlook at the MVMC is great, Marks said. Traffic at the clinic has increased over the past year, as has traffic through the emergency room, he said.
“You need medical leadership in a hospital to give everybody direction,” Marks said. “On the medical side of things you have to have somebody who’s in charge.”
As chief of staff, Marks is working on improving medical policies, quality assurance and leading the staff through the process of transferring to electronic medical records.
The medical center now has three doctors on staff – Marks, Curtis Blake and Patricia Moran – along with two physicians’ assistants – Cary Wilson and Nancy Fitzpatrick.
Patients at the MVMC should expect the same level of service they would get anywhere, Jacobson said.
“There’s no practical reason for somebody around here to drive to Billings or Bozeman for their primary care,” he said.
And the variety of services the medical center offers will only get better with time, Jacobson said. He’s already bringing in cardiology and gastrointestinal specialists on a regular basis. The hope is to expand the service by bringing in gynecologists and urologists on a regular schedule, he said.
Ultimately, the growth of the medical center will continue to be an asset for Ennis and the rest of Madison County. To do their part, the leadership at the medical center will continue to ask for feedback from the community and their patients, Jacobson said
“For our community to grow and thrive it needs to have schools, local government infrastructure and it needs to have health care,” he said. “If the people of Madison County do not see the medical center as meeting their needs their medical center will not survive.”