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  • Kiowa County Hospital District Hires Interim CEO Jeanette Filpi, MHA

Kiowa County Hospital District Hires Interim CEO Jeanette Filpi, MHA

By Betsy Barnett

2022-01-26 20:46:54

In yet another special meeting called by the Kiowa County Hospital District on Wednesday night, January 19th a large crowd of interested citizens and district employees were on hand to witness the now five-member hospital board vote unanimously to hire interim Chief Executive Officer Ms. Jeanette Filpi, MHA for up to six months with the time to be determined after evaluation of her performance. Filpi is scheduled to begin work at the embattled hospital on January 25.

This was the first time in many months that a unified KCHD board came to the table in order to agree completely, with no dissention, on hiring the best candidate out of the three that were presented to them by current consultant Angela Linden from the Linden Group.

But the path the board went down having arrived at that mutual agreement was rocky at best and filled with statements of distrust towards members of the board and accusations as to unilateral actions taken by individual board members. The fireworks occurred prior to the board going into executive session to discuss the negotiations of the new interim CEO.

The meeting began with interested community member Doug Uhland asking Chairman Craig Kerfoot for the community to be able to make a comment. “We’re here because we’re concerned with how the board has been conducting business. It seems there are a lot of closed-door conversations and executive sessions that leaves the public wondering what is going on. I’d like to have community comment after the meeting so we can voice our concerns.”

Chairman Kerfoot agreed with Uhland that after the agenda business had completed there would be an open community forum.

The discussion moved to the agenda items with a report from Angela Linden of Linden Consulting. Linden stated that she had sent out copies of the scope of work and original proposal to the whole board in an email as requested by board member Claire Prince. She then asked the board if they had any questions on the proposal she provided.

Prince then presented a timeline to Chairman Kerfoot as to her concerns that unilateral decisions were being made as evident by the Linden proposal dated on November 5, 2021. Prince asked Kerfoot, “Why was Linden Consulting asked to provide a proposal to this board when we had just voted to hire Pathways Design Group at the October 26 meeting? You told us the PDG contract was at the lawyers when the deal fell through the first time. But now I see someone asked for the Linden Consulting proposal dated November 5. That was the same time we thought we were waiting on the PDG contract. Then all of sudden we didn’t get Pathways. We were not aware that Linden Consulting had been hired to do this scope of work on this proposal.”

Kerfoot answered, “Claire, you got the proposal and we all voted to have Linden Consulting come in.”

Ken Flory added, “We did discuss this, but we didn’t know there was already a deal occurring. We voted in November to have Angela Linden serve as interim CEO for two weeks.” Prince added, “At that same meeting we voted to bring Pathways in again. And it still didn’t happen.”

Prince then indicated to Kerfoot, “There are discrepancies on the timeline on the way you handled the PDG contract.”

Board member Kevin Davis stated to Prince, “Normally we send those to the attorney. The date on the PDG contract had lapsed. That’s when we started over. We agreed to the Linden proposal in November and Craig signed the proposal on November 29th.”

Prince then stated, “I did not know about this proposal, and I did not know it had been sent to the lawyer. When was it sent to the lawyer?”

Linden then stated, “I sent it on December 3 to the lawyer.” Prince then asked Kerfoot, “Why didn’t we discuss? You’re acting unilaterally and we aren’t getting the information.”

Kerfoot responded, “I’m the chairman and the lawyer contacted me back and said there were no concerns with the Linden contract.”

Prince asked, “But did you tell us? We were still under the assumption that you were executing the Pathways contract.”

Davis and Mary Eikner agreed they knew the contract was at the lawyers, but Flory argued that he too did not understand that Linden Consulting was replacing Pathways.

Prince then stated to the whole board, “Decisions are being made outside the board room. We didn’t do any discussion. My question is why are we moving forward with these decisions. Why are you not consulting the board on these major decisions? And why are you not communicating with us? This proposal was created on November 5 while we were supposed to be moving forward with Pathways.

Davis then stated, “Craig I’d like to thank you for your time. As far as the community hearing this it is highly inappropriate. I don’t understand where you’re going with this, and it needs to stop.”

Eikner stated to Prince, “Nothing that we have done out of executive session has been hidden.”

Prince responded, “There are some things in executive session that should be discussed in the open.”

Kerfoot then said, “We aren’t talking about Pathways, that’s done.”

Davis called Prince’s comments, “Personal attacks.”

Eikner agreed, “Everything you’re talking about is done. We need to move on. It’s over. Craig is not making the decisions. He’s the Chair. He has input from community members.”

At that point in the heated exchange, CFO Shannon Dixon spoke up stating, “I’d really like tonight to be about getting a CEO. We can’t wait. Angela is finished here, and we need to move on. I know there’s issues, but we have to move on.”

Prince then explained that during the interviews on the interim CEO they didn’t get to hear all the answers. She said she understood why but now she has to rely on other board members on what was said. “I don’t feel as if I have all the information I would need to make an informed decision.”

The final exchange occurred between Prince and Linden when the topic of Centura Health came up. Prince asked, “Are you thinking we might have you come back to help us later on get connected with Centura Health? I see you have a good relationship with Centura.”

Linden replied, “Craig asked me to come in. I can certainly help in that way. That’s up to the board of directors.”

Nevertheless, after the hard feelings were expressed and grievances acknowledged, or in some cases denied, the board decided the dissention and disagreement needed to be put behind them and that in front of them was the task of moving forward to hire an interim Chief Executive Officer with the hope that this move would be cost effective in the long run.

Linden then introduced Ben Anderson from the Colorado Hospital Association who had agreed to be at the meeting in order to help inform the board on the qualifications of the CEO candidates. Anderson said, “I have seen Jeannette’s work at Cortez. She’s legit. She’s really good. She walked into a real mess in Cortez and got things turned around. I’m surprised she didn’t need to stay there longer, but she got the job done. She’s very direct in her communication style. She understands rural health well. She is great about seeking resources for the community and will be very invested in the community. I think you’re read on her is accurate. I’d say for her to be successful requires the unanimous support of this board. She would do marvelous things for this hospital with support.”

Thus, ensued conversation by the board members in open session about the candidates they had interviewed over the past week. Quickly, the five members of the board came to an agreement on Filpi as the candidate they would like to hire.

Kerfoot indicated, “Jeannette had good answers and was very direct.”

Flory agreed, “I thought Jeannette was a strong candidate. She seemed strong in rural health. She was already engaged.”

Provider Morgan King added, “I thought she out of the three had the most valuable experience. She said some helpful things about how she’d handle conflict within the staff and with leadership. One of the main things I remember saying is that when there’s a conflict it’s a process issue and not a people issue. I thought that was smart.”

Flory and Prince both came back to the table despite their disagreements with the other three board members and indicated they too believed Filpi to be the best candidate. Prince stated, “I was very impressed with Jeannette. She’ll bring a well-rounded approach dealing with the issues we have right now. She should help the department heads in their roles.”

Jeanette Filpi, MHA

Jeanette Filpi, MHA, is originally from Grand Junction, Colorado. Jeanette has 30 years’ experience encompassing multiple healthcare systems and hospitals. Her strengths are in leadership development, physician recruitment, new program development, and collaboration to further process improvement.

Filpi has an extensive record of management within the health field most recently coming from the Community Hospital Corporation at the Southwest Health Systems in Cortez, Colorado where she served as interim CEO from April 2021 to the present. As Interim CEO she took care of a 25 Bed Independent Critical Access Hospital in Cortez that was managed by CHC (Community Health Center). As per the 2020 audited financial statements at the facility, Filpi managed $65.8M in Net Operating Revenue and 435 employees. And this she did during a pandemic, vaccine mandates, and destabilization of the health industry as a whole.

Filpi has other impressive work experiences as an interim leader in health facilities across the country. She worked in Pickens County, Alabama, Pennington Gap, GA; Lee County, Virginia; Florence, SC and Plano, Texas at the Triad Hospitals, Inc. She also worked in Oregon at the Williamette Valley Medical Center as Director of Therapy and Rehab Services. In the mid-1990s she worked at Longmont United Hospital as a Physical Therapist.

Filpi has a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Filpi is scheduled to begin work at the Kiowa County Hospital District on Tuesday, January 25. The Independent hopes to have more on the new Interim CEO as she settles into the difficult challenge she has before her here in Eads.

One final aspect of the meeting came at the end of the meeting after Filpi was hired and the community members got an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns based on the board’s actions.

Discussion began with former board member and current Eads pharmacist Tom Davis who served as a voice of reason as to where he sees the community and, in particular, the hospital. Davis said, “We should feel lucky that our hospital is financially sound. That’s a good thing. I served on this board during times when we were out of money, and we had to go to the bank to float us loan so we could meet payroll for the month.”

Past board member Tanya Lane explained the best understanding she always had of how a successful district was run was for everyone to follow the chain of command. “The things these board members are having to deal with and make decisions on should never come to this level. They should have been handled by the leadership.”

Former county board member Pamela Cole agreed but emphasized in this case the leadership was not addressing their grievances and so they were taken directly to the board. She stated, “You have to have leadership that will effectively deal with the issue, or this is what we get.”

Other discussions centered around what the community can do to help the hospital thrive. Housing was indicated as a real problem for the providers and the incoming CEO. Anderson advised the crowd, “The quality of people you can attract is dependent on how welcoming the community is.”

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