Finalist exits hospital’s CEO search
Aspen Valley Hospital announced the three finalists in its CEO search last week, but already one of the candidates has dropped out, and another said he is unsure whether he would take the position if it were offered to him.On Friday, the hospital announced that Witt-Keifer, its CEO search firm, had narrowed the pool of candidates to three – Michael Barch, David Ressler and Jon Sewell.The hospital is recovering from a financial crisis that saw a loss of around $12 million last year and the firing of nearly 11 percent of its work force, including former CEO Randy Middlebrook. After Middlebrook’s dismissal, hospital board members said hiring a new CEO would be their top priority.Reached by telephone on Saturday, Sewell said he was withdrawing his application for the Aspen position. The Greeley resident had been the CEO of the North Colorado Medical Center before leaving the position in April.”It’s a complicated process when both sides are looking at one another,” Sewell said. “I’m not sure there was a fit there. But I’m sure they have two other great candidates.”He said AVH’s recent financial troubles did not contribute to his decision.Ressler is currently the CEO of the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center, a medium-sized hospital that serves Sierra Vista, Ariz. Ressler, an avid hiker and cyclist, said that while living in Aspen appealed to him, he is not sure he would leave his current position if offered the job.”My wife and I were immediately attracted to [Aspen]. It’s a beautiful community. But I’m also happily employed here. [AVH] is looking at me and I’m looking closely at them,” he said.Ressler said he is undaunted by the recent financial struggles at AVH and is confident he could help the hospital on its road to recovery, should he become CEO.AVH board President John Sarpa said Sewell’s withdrawal and Ressler’s hesitation came as a surprise, but that the hospital remained in a good position on the strength of the two remaining finalists.”We had three really good candidates. So now I guess we have two strong candidates,” he said. “I’m confident that when we choose we’ll get one of the two.”Barch, of Washington D.C., said he was excited about the challenges at AVH. He has headed various health-care institutions in the D.C. area, and was once described as a “fix-it man” by the Washington Business Journal, the person brought in to save struggling hospitals.”When all things fail, you call Barch in to fix it – that’s my reputation,” Barch said. “But I enjoy building things more than fixing them, and I think that will be the challenge at AVH.”Barch said making AVH a destination hospital and working to increase fund-raising at the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation would be his two priorities as CEO.Hospital officials say they hope to make a decision by the end of the month.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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