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Michael Schramm is pictured March 5 during an interview with the Willmar City Council. Schramm was selected Wednesday as the new CEO of Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. He will begin his duties in June. Tribune file photo

Newly selected CEO says he is looking forward to challenges of leading Rice Memorial Hospital

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Newly selected CEO says he is looking forward to challenges of leading Rice Memorial Hospital
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Michael Schramm says he's looking forward to the challenge of becoming Rice Memorial Hospital's new chief executive.

Schramm, 38, of Litchfield was selected Wednesday for the city-owned hospital's top position. He will join Rice at the beginning of June.

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The past couple of weeks have been "a little bit of a whirlwind," Schramm said Thursday afternoon. He spent the day receiving phone calls from well-wishers and attending meetings -- one of them a construction meeting on a $30 million project under way at Meeker Memorial Hospital, where he is the current chief executive.

He was already in conversation Thursday with Wayne Larson, chairman of the Rice Hospital board, about making the transition to Willmar and attending the next board meeting in April.

Schramm said he also has been in touch with Dale Hustedt, Rice's interim CEO, to start getting acquainted with ongoing projects and issues at Rice.

"There's going to be contact and communication throughout the next two months," he said.

Schramm was chosen for the position after a rigorous search. As one of two finalists, he spent two days in Willmar undergoing a series of interviews with the hospital board, medical staff, hospital managers, the Willmar City Council and dozens of other stakeholders.

"I think the process was very thorough and very comprehensive," he said. "There were a lot of stakeholders that were involved and actually had face time with the candidates... Certainly from a candidate's perspective it was intense, but I very much enjoyed it and very much enjoyed getting to meet all the stakeholders."

He called the job in Willmar "a great opportunity for me and my family."

For Meeker Memorial Hospital, Schramm's departure will be "a big loss," Dave Gabrielson, chairman of the hospital board, said Thursday.

Schramm is highly regarded in Litchfield, especially for what he has helped Meeker Memorial accomplish, Gabrielson said.

The county-owned hospital is nearing the end of the first phase in a $30 million expansion and renovation. New space for patient services is scheduled to open this summer. In the seven years Schramm has been in Litchfield, he also helped solidify the hospital's finances and developed new working relationships with local physicians.

Gabrielson said a search for Schramm's replacement is already under way. "We're starting right now," he said. "We've met several times already."

It's hoped that another chief executive can be in place before Schramm leaves at the beginning of June, Gabrielson said. "We could be lucky enough to find one shortly."

Schramm said he'll spend part of the next two months wrapping up projects in Litchfield so the transition can be orderly.

"It's difficult to leave," he said. "We've got a lot of things going on here. I've had a great board to work with. They've been tremendously supportive. I'll certainly miss working with them."

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