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Candidate profile developed for Rice's next CEO

WILLMAR -- The search committee for Rice Memorial Hospital's next chief executive is looking for someone who has experience in hospital leadership, possesses excellent people skills and knows how to think strategically.

The committee also wants a CEO who's a team player and dedicated to a high level of quality in patient care.

These qualities are part of a profile that's been developed to help the hospital seek the best-qualified candidates for its top leadership position.

Wayne Larson, chairman of the hospital board of directors and a member of the seven-person search committee, said this week that the profile was recently finalized and forwarded to Witt/Kieffer, the hospital's executive search consultant.

A slate of preliminary candidates could be ready by mid- to late January.

The finalists will be chosen by the end of February and a hiring announced by mid-March.

The hospital's top position opened at the end of September when Lawrence Massa left to become the new executive director of the Minnesota Hospital Association.

The vacancy comes at a key time for Rice Hospital, which is the largest city-owned hospital in Minnesota.

Several major initiatives have been launched within the past few years -- among them the development of an integrated cancer center and the opening of a regional dental clinic and training site for dentistry and dental hygiene students. The hospital is involved in joint ventures with Affiliated Community Medical Centers to provide medical imaging, cancer services and diabetes education, and with an Alexandria orthopedic clinic to offer orthopedic surgery services.

The hospital also is working to solidify its financial footing after undergoing $5 million in budget cuts over the past two years.

What the hospital board and the search committee are seeking: someone who can keep this momentum moving forward, Larson said.

"We want to maintain the vision. Let's be proactive rather than reactive," he said.

The 21-page assessment for the hospital chief executive position was put together after a series of meetings last month between the consultants and local stakeholders. The consultants met and talked with more than 60 people.

They not only collected input from the board and the search committee but also from physicians, the hospital's senior management team and leaders of the two local medical clinics. They met as well with additional stakeholders that included city and county officials and the hospital's partner organizations.

"The candidate profile was indeed a consensus," Larson said.

The requirements reflect the increasing complexity of running a hospital. The search committee prefers someone with a master's degree, and wants all the candidates to have at least seven years of experience in hospital administration.

The ideal candidate also needs to be comfortable and skilled working in the public environment demanded of a city-owned hospital.

Other qualities identified by the search committee: strong negotiating skills, decisiveness, a high sense of integrity and social responsibility, savvy at dealing with sensitive issues, good at motivating and mentoring other people.

Larson said the board and the search committee want someone who will be committed to staying in Willmar for seven to 10 years.

The average hospital CEO has a tenure of four to six years, according to a survey by the American College of Health Care Executives.

Larson said Witt/Kieffer has already had several inquiries about the opening at Rice Hospital.

"They're quite pleased with the response they've had," he said.