Turnover of top managers and doctors at Southwest Memorial Hospital has become part of the challenge of an ongoing financial recovery process, officials say.
This year, management consulting firm Community Hospital Corp. was contracted by the hospital to conduct a financial audit and implement a corrective plan. Overstaffing was identified as a key issue, resulting in 40 layoffs in August. Current staff at the hospital is 380.
Changes in management continue. Last week, interim Chief Financial Officer Sam Radke, part of the CHC recovery team, was let go after two months on the job, said hospital CEO Tony Sudduth, also of the CHC team. Radke had replaced CFO Angela Kobel, who was let go in April.
Also, Southwest Health System board member Scott Steeves has announced he plans to resign from the board in December. SHS is a private nonprofit that operates the hospital under a lease from the Montezuma County Hospital District.
Radke has a background in working to turn around distressed hospitals, and said in a brief statement that he was glad to help out in the process at Southwest.
“I wish the hospital and staff the best of luck in the future,” he said.
Sudduth emphasized that Radke was an interim CFO, and a search was ongoing to fill the position.
“We are committed to this recovery, and while the process is difficult and challenging, we believe this hospital is viable,” Sudduth said.
Steeves was appointed as a board member in early 2015. He is also a certified registered nurse anesthetist at Southwest. Steeves was out of town and was not available for comment about his resignation and time on the board until next week.
Southwest Memorial management also laid off orthopedic surgeon Dr. Doug Baage effective in December, and Sudduth said another orthopedic surgeon at the hospital also plans to leave.
“We know providing orthopedic services is important for the community and the hospital, and we are actively recruiting to fill those positions,” Sudduth said.
He said recruitment for more family practice physicians is also a priority.
Baage told The Journal that he was surprised by the decision to terminate his contract and is open to renegotiations.
“I’ve been serving patients here for 23 years. Cortez is my home, and I will do everything I can to continue to provide orthopedic care for my community,” he said.
Baage will have privilege status at Southwest medical facilities to provide care for patients as a private practice doctor.
Southwest will have a public forum to discuss hospital matters on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Cortez City Hall. Hospital management and members of both boards will be present to answer questions from the public.