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Editorial: Hospital board has a decision to make

The Rice Memorial Hospital Board faces a decision today on the next chief executive officer for the regional hospital located in Willmar. Fortunately, the board has two excellent finalists. Thus, the decision will be beneficial to the hospital, the city and west central Minnesota.

The hospital's chief executive officer is one of the key public positions within the city and the region. The new CEO will become the leader for the city's largest public entity, with operating revenues of more than $90 million and a staff of 900 employees. In addition, the facility is the regional hospital for west central Minnesota.

The two finalists -- Rice's chief financial officer William Fenske and Meeker Memorial Hospital's chief executive officer Michael Schramm -- are excellent candidates with impressive credentials in education and public medical institutional management. It is even more impressive that both candidates are already located and employed in the medical field right here in west central Minnesota.

- Fenske, 46, has served as Rice's CFO since 2006. He has also worked as CEO, senior vice president and CFO for Agnesian Health-Care in Fond du Lac, Wis.; and as financial vice president and CFO of Winona Health in Winona. A native of Marshall, he earned a master's in business administration from the University of Minnesota and his bachelor's from Southwest State in Marshall.

- Schramm, 38, has served as CEO of county-owned Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield since 2002. He also served as the CEO of Sibley Medical Center and Clinic in Arlington. A native of South Dakota, he earned a master's in health administration from the University of Minnesota and his bachelor's from University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

One advantage Fenske brings to the table is three years of experience with Rice and the Willmar community. He knows the players involved and can hit the ground running.

The next CEO has big shoes to fill in following former CEO Lawrence Massa. Yet the new CEO must be his own self and be the new leader of Rice. The new executive must balance the needs of all the stakeholders -- the patients, the city and the medical community, both locally and regionally.

It is critical that the hospital board pick the best candidate to be their next executive leader. The new CEO must be accessible and approachable. The individual must work with the medical community, the city and Kandiyohi County in long-range strategic planning. Moreover, the new executive will play a primary role in the development of new strategic partnerships within our community and the region.

In the end, the responsibility for this choice lies with the hospital board. Whatever its choice, we believe the community will be served well by the next hospital CEO.