As of last week’s meeting of the Pershing General Hospital Board of Trustees, four good candidates had applied for the CEO job, said Chairman Charles Safford. The candidates responded from around the country including Nevada, California, Texas and West Virginia.
Virtual candidate interviews were tentatively set for May 9 with in-person interviews to follow. The board is fast-tracking the hiring process but if other candidates apply, more interviews may be needed. PGH CEO Cindy Hixenbaugh is leaving the job on July 1 and a retired PGH CEO such as Patty Wilcox could be hired as interim administrator until a permanent CEO is on board.
“We can hire Patty as an interim CEO if we feel the need to,” Safford said. “A $5,000 budget for additional advertising has been created but LinkedIn seems to work exceptionally well.”
After researching the first four candidates, Safford summarized their backgrounds. The candidate from Winnemucca is a highly qualified IT professional but has no hospital management experience. The Californian is extremely qualified with 40 years of hospital management experience but “he wanted an almost half a million dollars base salary.”
“He said $525,000 is the going rate but he’d come down to $490,000,” Safford said, generating laughter from the Board of Trustees in response. “Anyway, I thanked him for his time.”
Safford was impressed with the Texas candidate after hearing glowing reports about his people and management skills from medical personnel who had worked with him at various hospitals.
“They all say the same kind of thing. He’s great with people,” Safford said. “This man speaks fluent Spanish. He was also given the difficult patients to deal with on a weekly basis and the CEO said he always resolved the issue perfectly. He’s one of the two of the four candidates that I think would be a good fit for our hospital.”
Safford said he was also impressed by the candidate from Sistersville, West Virginia.
“He has the most compelling story I’ve ever heard,” he said. “His whole career has been at the Sistersville hospital. He started out at the very bottom. He was an EMT/ambulance driver, he worked in hospice programs…He became the IT Director then eventually he was moved to Operations and became Director of Operations then Chief Operating Officer for this hospital.”
When the Sistersville hospital was about to go bankrupt, the candidate landed a million dollar “bridge” grant to save the facility, Safford said.
“He kept the hospital open for the next three years,” he said. “This guy had great rapport with the doctors. A nurse that I talked to said she wished he wasn’t leaving and called him a catch. I was told that he has a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but, most of all, he’s a people person.”
Safford said the West Virginia candidate has been a hospital candidate for three years while the Texas candidate has more experience as a CEO of several hospitals including larger facilities.
“Both of them come across exceptionally well,” Safford explained.
Housing was a concern but Safford told the candidates that the hospital “would work with them.” As for the family question, the Texas candidate has a 12-year-old daughter and a couple of other children while the West Virginian “has recently been married and has no children.”
CEO Cindy Hixenbaugh reported that in March the clinic had 758 patients including 24 new patients. There were 133 visits to the outdoor tent behind the clinic where patients are tested for potential COVID-19 cases but the last confirmed case of COVID-19 was on March 7, she said.
COVID vaccines, booster shots, home test kits and Paxlovid, an antiviral drug, are still available.
“As far as the weekly wrap ups for COVID in northern Nevada, they do see a leveling off of the number of hospitalized cases so they are still floating around but it’s certainly not anything significant,” Hixenbaugh said. “They see no strong signals of a resurgence. If you are in the facility, we have taken down the plastic in the hall. We’re trying to move on and catch up on things that we haven’t been able to do for two years.”