NOCH Narrows CEO Search

November 12, 2002
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GRAND HAVEN — As North Ottawa Community Health System prepares to embark on a major renovation to accommodate growing patient volumes, it also is near the final stages in the search for a new chief executive officer.

What started as a field of about 100 applicants has now been trimmed to a handful of candidates for the position.

Ronald Zoet, chairman of North Ottawa’s Board of Trustees, expects the Grand Haven-based health system to have a new CEO/president on board by the first of the year, “if not sooner.”

“We are making great progress,” Zoet said.

The search for a new chief executive to succeed former CEO and President Mike Funk, who resigned suddenly in February after more than three years of service, began in late summer.

A committee consisting of North Ottawa trustees and staff and representatives from Horizon Medical, a group of local primary care and specialty physicians, is handling the search, Zoet said.

Whoever the board hires will take over as North Ottawa Community Health System continues to move beyond the deep financial problems experienced in the late 1990s.

Since then, North Ottawa has gone on to develop the $10 million Harbor Dunes Health Center in a partnership with Horizon Medical and will begin a $9.3 million major first-floor renovation project in January.

The project will enable North Ottawa Community Hospital to expand the emergency department and high-demand outpatient medical services that have seen sizable growth rates in recent years.

A newly configured first floor will also help visitors better navigate an inefficient and confusing maze of corridors, as well as generate operating efficiencies, improve coordination among staff and better integrate the adjacent Harbor Dunes Health Center into the hospital.

“We’ve been planning and organizing the details of this project for almost two years. Now it’s time for us to get on with it,” interim President and CEO Mike Payne said.

The Michigan Department of Community Health late last month issued a certificate of need to North Ottawa to proceed with the project.

The 81-bed, acute-care hospital’s outpatient volumes have grown 4 percent annually since 1999. About 85 percent of the hospital’s patient volume now comes from outpatient surgical, laboratory and radiology services. The ratio was about 50-50 just 10 years ago.

The large increase reflects the changes that have occurred in health care in the past decade and the need for hospitals to continue to adapt.

North Ottawa’s Breast Evaluation Center, women’s health clinic and cancer treatment center also will receive far more space to handle growing outpatient volumes. In oncology services alone, visits to North Ottawa’s outpatient cancer treatment center are projected to grow to 8,000 annually within three years, a 150 percent increase in volume from just two years ago.

The emergency department will get a new urgent care clinic that’s designed to better separate non-emergency cases from emergency cases so those patients are quickly diagnosed and treated without lengthy waits.

The first-floor renovation will occur in 13 separate phases over the next two and a half to three years, beginning with space recently vacated by the hospital’s rehab department that moved to the Harbor Dunes Health Center.

The goal is to do the work in a manner that minimizes disruptions, Marketing Manager Heather Johnston said.

“We need to keep our business as we have and go on with day-to-day activities, running the hospital and accomplishing this at the very same time,” Johnston said. “We’re going about it in a very methodical manner.”           

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