National firm leading search for next head of St. Mary’s Healthcare

Wilkinson Residential Health Care Facility at St. Mary’s Healthcare Memorial Campus off Route 30 in Amsterdam on  Dec. 11, 2020.

Wilkinson Residential Health Care Facility at St. Mary’s Healthcare Memorial Campus off Route 30 in Amsterdam on  Dec. 11, 2020.

AMSTERDAM — The ongoing hunt for the next president and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare is being led by a national healthcare executive search firm.

The Board of Directors hired Quick Leonard Kieffer around the end of August to lead the search for the healthcare organization’s next leader, according to board President Michael Pepe.

“This is a very experienced firm that has been involved in a lot of similar transitions in New York state so they are familiar with our market and doing a great job,” Pepe said Thursday.

The search firm was tapped shortly before St. Mary’s President and CEO Scott Bruce last month publicly announced his plans to retire around the end of this year. He held a variety of leadership roles throughout his 25 years with the healthcare organization and was named CEO in July 2020.

The hospital executive’s last day is expected to coincide with the appointment of his successor to ensure a smooth transition.

“He has agreed as part of his retirement to stay on for a period of time that will dovetail with the period of time it’s going to take us to fill the position,” Pepe said. “He is very cooperative in continuing to work towards the goals the board has set forth for the upcoming fiscal year and continues to work diligently.”

Resumes from prospective candidates are expected to be delivered to the board for initial review in the coming weeks. The list will be whittled down and then vetted by the search firm to select individuals for interviews that will likely be scheduled around early December.

Applicants will be chosen based on criteria compiled by the search firm through discussion with board members and hospital leaders.

“We’re looking for somebody with experience running a hospital our size in a quasi-rural market, but with proximity to a metropolitan area such as the Capital District and that is familiar with handling the competition in today’s market,” Pepe said.

Maintaining a high standard of care will be a priority for the community healthcare provider under its next leader, Pepe said. The future hospital chief will also have to reckon with the modern industry that has increasingly led organizations to adopt more specialized practices.

“They can’t be all things to all people anymore as they may have been in the past,” Pepe said. “A hospital like St. Mary’s has to identify what is needed most in our community and be able to deliver those services in an efficient and cost effective manner.”

Finding a leader experienced in navigating the financial challenges that “all hospitals” are facing will be essential, according to Pepe. Whether maintaining St. Mary’s unique status as one of the few remaining independent healthcare organizations in the state will be similarly prioritized moving forward seems less certain.

“It is difficult to perform as an independent hospital in a very competitive market, there are ways to do it, that can be done and we’re exploring every option in that regard,” Pepe said. “We’re always mindful of the best way to move forward in this industry, so all options are always on the table.”

The board is confident the search process will culminate in the selection of a capable leader for St. Mary’s to carry on the mission of serving the community, Pepe said. An appointment is expected to be made around the end of the year.

“The board is excited about the process and the future of the hospital,” Pepe said. “We’re working hard toward it and want to assure the community that the hospital is strong and viable and we’ll be here for a long time to come.”

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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