Aspen Valley Hospital to cast ‘wide net’ in CEO search |

Aspen Valley Hospital to cast ‘wide net’ in CEO search

Aspen Times file photo
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Editor’s note: The original version of this article contained an error regarding the selection process for an interim CEO. This article has been changed to correctly reflect the selection process.

Terry Collins, interim CEO at Aspen Valley Hospital, said after Monday’s board of directors meeting that he has not decided if he will apply for the permanent post.

The board appointed Collins, the hospital’s chief financial officer, to fill the position after Dan Bonk, citing family reasons, abruptly resigned Jan. 16.

In the meantime, hospital controller Ginette Sebenaler is serving as the interim CFO.

Collins, who joined the hospital in 2004, said he wants to see how his temporary stint goes before he decides whether to apply for the permanent position.

Meanwhile at Monday’s board of directors meeting, the board unanimously approved appointing David Eisenstat and Dr. Mindy Nagle to the search committee for a new CEO.

Both board directors, Eisenstat is a retired health care attorney and Nagle is an obstetrician and gynecologist at All Valley Women’s Care in Aspen.

Eisenstat said the search will be conducted both locally and nationally.

“We’ll be casting a wide net to attract a strong and robust slate of candidates,” Eisenstat told board members.

The hospital has retained Oak Brook, Illinois-based executive headhunting firm Witt/Kieffer to lead the search.

Because Bonk, who joined the hospital in January 2014, didn’t last three years at the medical facility, the firm is waiving its fees but will charge the hospital for any out-of-pocket expenses associated with the search, Eisenstat said.

The first step in the process begins next week, when Witt/Kieffer officials are scheduled to meet with what are called the hospital’s “key stakeholders” about what type of leader the facility wants.

Eisenstat described those stakeholders as people who “are most knowledgeable and work within the hospital community.”

Because the hospital is a public institution — its board members are elected and it is supported by a mill levy — state law requires that the identities of the three finalists be made public. The finalists also will be interviewed in public by the hospital board.

Those dynamics can make for a touchy situation for the candidates. Protecting their identities until the finalists are announced will be vital to the process, Eisenstat said.

“The confidentiality is critical,” Eisenstat said. “People don’t want to lose their jobs … so it gets to be a difficult process unless you winnow down the field in a respectful manner and a careful manner.”

He added: “There’s a delicate process that needs to be navigated here … just common sense that we need to be cautious and respectful during the process.”

Eisenstat said he doesn’t expect a horde of applicants.

“You’d be surprised how relatively few qualified candidates apply for this job,” he said. “Candidly, it’s not as easy as we’d like to think.”

The goal is to have a new CEO hired within five months, Eisenstat said.

Absent from Monday’s meeting was Elaine Gerson, the hospital’s chief clinical officer and general counsel who gave her 30 days’ notice of resignation last month. The board considered both Collins and Gerson for the interim CEO job. The board announced the appointment of Collins on Jan. 25. Four days later, Jan. 29, Gerson announced her exit.

Board member Barry Mink called Gerson a “valuable contributor to the hospital” and her resignation “was taken with a heavy heart by all of us. We will certainly miss her.”

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