Dan Bonk takes CEO job at Aspen Valley Hospital | AspenTimes.com

Dan Bonk takes CEO job at Aspen Valley Hospital

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Dan Bonk

It's official: Dan Bonk will be the new CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital.

Bonk, president of Aurora Medical Center in Summit, Wis., starts on Jan. 2. The hospital's board unanimously voted to hire him and enter negotiations over his contract on Oct. 14.

Bonk will earn $390,000 per year in base salary, plus various incentives and benefits, hospital spokeswoman Ginny Dyche said Tuesday. He will receive travel expenses for the move to Aspen, free housing at the CEO's residence on the hospital's campus and bonus pay — as much as 30 percent of his base salary — at the end of the year, should he meet certain goals.

He must pay into the hospital's insurance plan and cover the cost of utility bills at the CEO house, Dyche said.

"We are obviously pleased that this step in the process has come to fruition, and we look forward to welcoming Dan to both the hospital and the community," she said in an email.

The position came open when CEO Dave Ressler resigned in April to take a job with a hospital in Tucson, Ariz. Developer John Sarpa, who was a candidate for the job early in the search process, is the hospital's interim CEO.

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Ressler's base salary at the time of his departure was $314,000 annually. Dyche has said that the salary range for the position is $313,000 to $467,000, parameters determined through a hospital CEO compensation survey last year.

During the summer, resumes of 40 applicants were screened by Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm based in Oak Brook, Ill. In July, nine candidates were presented on paper to a hospital search committee, which includes Dr. Barry Mink, a hospital board member. Bonk and a hospital executive in Taos, N.M., made the cut to two finalists; they were interviewed by the board publicly Sept. 30.

Mink said Tuesday that Bonk has a wife as well as a son and daughter, both of whom attend high school. He said he believes Bonk's plan is to move to Aspen with his son while his wife stays in Wisconsin for a time as their daughter finishes her senior year.

Bonk's employer, Aurora Health Care, is a nonprofit network with 15 hospitals in Wisconsin. Its $270 million hospital in Summit opened in March 2010. Bonk joined Aurora in 2003. In addition to hospitals in Wisconsin, Bonk also has worked for health care facilities in Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Arizona.

Mink said Bonk's longtime hospital-management experience was a big factor in his decision.

"The Aurora health care network is competitive and tough; it has a very low tolerance for mistakes," he said. "He survived in that network for a long time. Second, when he was here in Aspen, I was impressed with two things: He seemed like a frank and honest fellow, and he had a lot of empathy and understanding of the medical staff.

"A priority for him was communication and working closely with doctors, nurses and staff," Mink said. "That's kind of what made me swing in his favor."

Bonk will hit the ground running next year to assist the fund-raising effort for construction of the third and fourth phases of the hospital's expansion. The project cost is $60 million, of which the hospital already has raised $14 million.

A 2010 story in the Milwaukee Business Journal notes that Bonk was a track star at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and that he held a record for running 880 yards. His athletic accomplishments include being named a college All-American twice and qualifying for the Olympic trials in 1976.

That same story pointed out that Bonk underwent two spinal fusions when he was a teenager. The surgeries were completed by taking bone fragments from his hip, which created a difference in the length of his legs and eventually led to a total knee replacement.

Having to undergo multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation led to his career in health care, the article said.

asalvail@aspentimes.com