Hospital board swears in LaPorte and discusses CEO search process

by Richard Uhlhorn

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Hospital Board Chairman Mary Signorelli swore in Jordana LaPorte to fill the vacant spot on the hospital commission at its Special Meeting on May 31.

The Lake Chelan Community Hospital held a special meeting on Thursday, May 31, to swear in Jordana LaPorte as its new commissioner and to appoint, authorize and direct the Chief Executive Officer to sign any documents required by the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development to complete the processing of the District’s loan application.

In consideration of passing Resolution No. 589, the board acknowledged that Interim CEO Steve Patonai might not be the hospital’s CEO during the entire loan application process, which is why the resolution gives authority to any individual that holds the title of CEO.

Patonai told the board that he expected the loan approval over the next month. “It will come back to the board for final approval,” said Patonai. The board unanimously approved Resolution No. 589.

The Board is currently in the process of finding a new CEO to replace Kevin Abel who took a job in Montana. In the interim, Steve Patonai is acting CEO and helping the hospital through the process. In addition, the Board has hired B.E. Smith, a health care executive search firm, to help locate the right person to be the hospital’s new CEO.

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Chris Corwin, Vice President of B.E. Smith Company, a Health Care Executive Search Firm, answers questions from the hospital board on the process of finding a new CEO to replace Kevin Abel who took a job in Montana.

Chris Corwin, Vice President of the firm, was on hand to discuss the process with the Board. She said her company was very committed and passionate to finding someone who will fit in the community. “We will go out in the market representing you,” she said.

B.E. Smith will be screening applicants based on criteria developed by the hospital board. Corwin said the timeline for finding suitable applicants will be three to four weeks. “The board will determine who they are most excited about,” she said.

The first screening interviews will be conducted by video for its practicality. Those who are short listed will be brought on site. The initial screening process will be accomplished in executive session and it won’t be until the finalists are selected that a public session will be held.

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Hospital commissioner Mary Murphy had several questions for Chris Corwin of B.E. Smith Company regarding the criteria for finding a new CEO.

Board member Mary Murphy asked if B.E. Smith’s criteria will be different than what the board is using. Corwin replied that it wouldn’t be different. Over the next week, the board will develop its criteria. Murphy asked if Corwin would be available for consultation which Corwin replied in the affirmative.

Dr. Witt asked about the market, pay and benefits. Chairman Mary Signorelli answered that a CEO could be paid higher or lower depending on experience. There is also a State bench mark in the industry.

Corwin added that the job would be made attractive and that they would have that conversation with applicants up front. “We want to screen all of those people,” she said.

Signorelli said that once the board is down to two candidates, they will also be interviewed by the staff and have a meet and greet with the public invited. Signorelli commented that when Mike Jackson was hired at the City, there was a social get together at the Vogue. “They had postcards so people could write down who they liked the best,” she said.

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Chairman Mary Signorelli signs paperwork at the Special Board meeting held on Thursday, May 31. 

Signorelli told Corwin that it was good to have her on board. “We are looking forward to working with you,” she added. “We are not in a rush mode. We are taking our time to find the best person possible.” Corwin replied that she was looking forward to the process as well.

The board unanimously approved an amendment to Patonai’s Employment Agreement for the next three months without having to come back to the board each month.

The next board meeting will be held on June 7 at 1:30 p.m. in the hospital board room. The public is invited to attend.

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