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.
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.