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CEO out at local hospital

Almost a year after he started, the hospital’s CEO resigned last week after a committee of the hospital commission interviewed employees ahead of his upcoming evaluation.

Jonathan Owens took the reins of Coulee Medical Center in July 2016.

Owens stopped a plan last fall that had the hospital spending more on an electronic medical records system than it could afford.

He hired a financial consultant to target high expenses and low revenue areas that had contributed to losses that forced the hospital to pay debts with county warrants, instituting a plan in March for a $3.1 million turnaround this year.

Owens resigned last Wednesday night at a hospital district commission meeting. President Jerry Kennedy said that he and Commissioner Betty Brueske, as the commission’s human resources committee, began preparations a month ago for Owens’ first annual performance evaluation.

They interviewed 20 hospital staffers, including its management team.

During the process, which Kennedy described as very open, concerns were voiced that the management structure was changing in a way that had everyone reporting directly to the chief executive officer, Kennedy said.

“Jonathan chose to resign,” Kennedy said Monday.

He said Ramona Hicks has agreed to take an interim CEO position. He noted that Kelly Hughes is now the chief financial officer and Dr. Sam Hsieh the chief of medical staff.

Hicks joined CMC in 1993 as a surgical technician and has served as operating room supervisor, infection control nurse, employee health nurse, quality director, risk manager and chaplain.

Kennedy said a recruitment team will begin the process of finding a new CEO today.

He said that during the process he and Brueske had been “impressed with the quality of the management team” at the hospital.

A special commission meeting has been called for 2 p.m. today that will include an executive session, plus the presentation of a letter from the board of commissioners to the hospital staff.


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