December 30th, 2008

Henry County Health Center announced today that it will contract with Great River Health Systems of West Burlington, Iowa, for the recruitment and employment of Henry County Health Center’s next chief executive officer.

“I am pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with Great River Health Systems and that our search for a new chief executive officer will get under way within two weeks,” said Jan Towne, chairwoman of Henry County Health Center’s Board of Trustees.

According to Towne, the agreement provides for Great River Health Systems to be the employer of the new chief executive officer, with that person being chosen by the Henry County Health Center board but reporting jointly to the Henry County Health Center Board of Trustees and to Great River Health Systems’ Chief Executive Officer Mark Richardson. Great River Health Systems is the parent company of Great River Medical Center, where Richardson is also the chief executive officer.

Henry County Health Center’s chief executive officer position has been vacant since the resignation of Dan Sheehan in July 2008. Former Chief Executive Officer Robert Miller has served in an interim basis since Sheehan’s resignation.

“This chief executive officer contract gives us the best of both worlds,” Towne said. “It continues Henry County Health Center’s independence and our board’s full oversight, yet it allows us to access higher levels of resources from a regional medical center that are otherwise not available to us.”

She cited in-house legal counsel, physician recruiting resources and continuing education as examples. Towne also pointed out that Henry County Health Center and Great River Medical Center have a longstanding relationship in which Henry County Health Center’s Rehabilitation Department is managed by Great River Medical Center. Henry County Health Center and Great River Medical Center are also members of Southeastern Renal Dialysis, a five-hospital regional joint venture that will open its fifth outpatient dialysis center next month.

Henry County Health Center’s board had formed a task force to evaluate options for replacing Sheehan. The task force consisted of three trustees and three physicians. Its charge was to identify and evaluate all potential options. Towne said the task force evaluated multiple options, but the chief executive officer contract with Great River Health Systems was deemed the most promising and, thus, became the task force’s recommendation to the full board at a special board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 30. She also said the task force considered but rejected management contract offers from national health-care management companies. She said that Henry County Health Center considered some of the same relationships four years ago, and that the growth in chief executive officer contract arrangements across Iowa was a consideration in the Henry County Health Center board’s outlook.

“There were several key drivers in the board’s decision, but our choice ultimately hinged on which alternative was the best prospect for Henry County Health Center’s continued success in an increasingly challenging environment,” Towne said. “Henry County Health Center is known across Iowa for its success in high-quality care, financial strength and patient satisfaction. The hospital gained that reputation by responding proactively to health care’s challenges and opportunities. With a new president and congressional leadership targeting health care for substantial reform, and with the challenges of the economic environment, forward-thinking hosptials are repositioning themselves to insure they can continue to pursue their missions. Our board believes this chief executive officer contract with Great River Health Systems is a continuation of that trend and an approach that best insures the preservation of Henry County Health Center’s unique culture and strengths.”