Hospital board picks Wolfe for top administrator role

Hospital board picks Wolfe for top administrator role

Olympic Medical Center’s board of commissioners didn’t have far to go to find its next top administrator.

The seven-member board elected to remove the “interim” from interim chief executive officer Darryl Wolfe’s title at a special meeting on July 29.

The board is expected to make that decision official at its Aug. 5 regular board meeting.

Wolfe succeeds Eric Lewis, who started with OMC as chief financial officer in November 1988 before being named the medical center’s CEO in December 2006.

“It’s a very challenging time to do this job (but) I feel very fortunate,” Wolfe said. “Eric built a very strong team — our leadership team has some of the smartest, most talented team (members) I’ve ever worked with.”

Wolfe and a second unnamed candidate were finalists for the position, OMC representatives said.

“This was a highly competitive and robust selection process,” said Jennifer Burkhardt, chief human resources officer and general counsel, and a key OMC leader on the committee.

“The board sought to find a qualified CEO who exemplifies ‘The OMC Way’ while prioritizing safety, quality, patient experience and employee engagement.

“Darryl excelled in his interim role and will serve our patients, community and staff very well during these challenging times.”

As CEO, Wolfe will oversee a $221 million operations budget and nearly 1,600 employees.

Joined in 2006

Wolfe joined Olympic Medical Center in 2006 as a financial analyst, and progressed into OMC leadership roles including treasurer, director of administration, chief financial officer and most recently chief operating officer.

He has a master’s degree in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University and a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University.

Wolfe lives in Port Angeles with his wife and two school-aged children.

Lewis initially planned to resign his CEO role in early May but stayed on through June 1 to help the medical center with efforts to handle the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lewis has taken the chief financial officer role with American Medical Association, a position he expects to start by Sept. 1.

“It’s an honor to follow someone like Eric, who is so widely respected —not just here at OMC but regionally but at a state level (and beyond),” Wolfe said.

OMC’s new CEO said he learned some key leadership habits under Lewis over the years.

“He had a good leadership style — he balanced accountability with humor and humility,” Wolfe said. “He was a good leader in that way.”

Both having chief financial officer experience, Lewis was able to pass along how the fiances enables the whole operation and how it all works together, Wofle said.

Those finances are going to be key for the medical center in coming months. Besides the various ramifications of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic on the local health care system, OMC will still be battling a familiar fight: drawing adequate Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The overall fallout from the COVID-19 will add to those pressures on Medicaid reimbursement on a state level, Wolfe said, as residents lose benefits.

The Olympic Medical Cancer Center on the Sequim campus along North Fifth Avenue is being completed now, Wolfe said, though some projects have been put on the proverbial back burner with overall economic financial uncertainty.

OMC has managed to keep staff and not cut salaries during the COVID-19 issue, Wolfe said, as the medical center aims to retain its workforce for the long-term.

Selection team

The finalist selection committee consisted of Thom Hightower, John Nutter and Tom Oblak, who worked with worked with hospital leadership and other board members to narrow the finalist field.

Finalists were then interviewed by a panel of board members, medical staff, community partners, stakeholders, administrators, directors and staff, OMC representatives said.

Wolfe was the only in-house candidate among the first round of candidates winnowed from 91 applicants to 15.

“(Wolfe) is an excellent candidate who is broadly supported,” Burkhardt said in mid-May. “He will be a very important leader to OMC. It’s just a matter of whether one of the external candidates rises to the top. Darryl will definitely be a finalist.”

Lewis told commissioners on May 20 that it was time for him to step away from the heavyweight duties that come with being a hospital CEO.

OMC joins AHA, AAMC in appeal

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), along with fellow plaintiffs Olympic Medical Center, Mercy Health in Muskegon, Mich., and York Hospital in York, Maine, seek to overturn a recent decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that reversed a district court decision finding that the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) exceed its statutory authority when it reduced payments for hospital outpatient services furnished in off-campus provider-based departments.

In a joint press release on July 24, the AHA and AAMC stated, “These illegal cuts directly undercut the clear intent of Congress to protect hospital outpatient departments because of the many real and crucial differences between them and other sites of care.

“These hospital outpatient departments are held to higher regulatory standards and are often the only point of access for patients with the most severe chronic conditions, all of whom receive treatment regardless of ability to pay. We look forward to a prompt rehearing of our case to overturn these unlawful cuts.”

Darryl Wolfe, CEO of Olympic Medical Center, noted: “The reductions in Medicare reimbursement resulted in an approximately $1.7 million cut in reimbursement in 2019, and we anticipate it will be up to $3.4 million in 2020.”

Olympic Medical Center factored in the 60 percent cuts when planning the 2020 budget.

“We planned our budget, assuming we’d earn $3.4 million less in 2020,” Wolfe said. “But these cuts over time may significantly impact our ability to bring needed medical services to our community and expand current services.”

Wolfe added, “We are hopeful the decision is overturned. With that said, we’re already looking at our strategy in 2021 to work with our elected officials to secure reliable and adequate government funding for rural health care.”

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