Nearly six months of work was wrapped up in three minutes early Wednesday evening as the board of trustees of the Adams Health Network (AHN) selected a new administrator for the facility to succeed retiring 22-year veteran Marvin L. Baird.
By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the trustees selected Thomas J. Nordwick to take over the post and thus become the fourth administrator in the history of Adams Memorial Hospital. Nordwick is currently the chief executive officer/administrator of the Memorial Hospital of Converse County located in Douglas, Wyoming.
In a phone interview Wednesday night, Nordwick said the major draw to Adams County for him was the organization and facilities that exist and "I'm very excited to be a part of it. One of the main goals we've had here at our hospital in Wyoming is the heavy focus on quality care. The hospital in Decatur has a similar focus and I look forward to continuing that goal."
When Baird announced to the trustees last fall that he anticipated retiring this summer, the board hired a national search committee to seek out candidates. Most recently, that search was narrowed to four candidates and the hospital trustees interviewed all four in a day-long session in Indianapolis. Those interviews brought the list of applicants down to two.
Last week, the hospital brought Nordwick and the other finalist, a hospital administrator from West Virginia, along with their wives to Decatur to meet with the department heads and medical staff. The administrators had a chance to answer questions and talk about their visions of health care in the future.
Wednesday night's meeting was one of the quickest on record, if not the quickest, with vice chairman Russ Flueckiger calling the meeting to order at 5 p.m. and adjourning at 5:03 p.m. Two members, Dr. Robert E. Judge, who normally chairs the meetings, and secretary Dennis Bieberich were both on vacation but "sat in" the meeting via a speaker phone to vote on the sole issue for the meeting.
Nordwick said he was impressed with the staff at the hospital and nursing homes, calling them "a tight-knit, caring staff. He added that he was informing the staff and trustees of Memorial Hospital of his decision to accept the AHN job Wednesday night.
The new administrator will officially take over effective July 15, the day after Baird's 75th birthday. The board authorized Flueckiger to sign a letter of intent to hire Nordwick and attorney Jeremy Brown (sitting in for law partner Adam Miller, the regular hospital attorney who is also on vacation) will execute an employment contract that outlines compensation, terms of employment, and other duties expected of Nordwick.
County councilman Stan Stoppenhagen also sat in on the meeting.
Board member Larry D. Macklin said the decision in hiring a new administrator "was very difficult. People can't imagine how hard this was. We had a criteria going in as to what we were looking for and that helped the search committee narrow the list down somewhat. When we went to interview the final four, we thought maybe someone would really jump out and others might fall back, but all four were really good candidates and all brought different qualities that would have made them a good administrator.
"In the end, Tom came on strong and I think his desire to come in and take the position set him apart from the others. I think the people here will find him refreshing and enjoyable to work with."
The criteria the board had established included wanting someone with critical access hospital experience (which Adams Memorial Hospital is). Along with that, the board wanted someone with some ties to the Midwest, with long-term care experience, and someone with experience in dealing with hospital-owned physician practices and rural health care in general.
Nordwick fit the bill on all counts, bringing over 20 years over progressive healthcare experience in executive level positions.
By JOE SPAULDING
Thomas J. Nordwick, named Wednesday night to head the local Adams Health Network, received a master of science degree in administration from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and has served in varying capacities at hospitals in both urban and rural locations in Michigan, Iowa, and Montana.
From 1989 to 1995 he was the CEO of Sheridan Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home in Plentywood, Montana. He moved to Estherville, Iowa, from 1995 to 2000 and was the CEO of a 58-bed acute care hospital. At both locations, he was responsible for, among other things, recruiting specialty and family practice physicians, establishing new medical services, and strategic planning.
Nordwick moved to his current location in January, 2001, and Memorial Hospital went from a 34-bed acute care hospital to a 25-bed licensed critical access hospital, all the while improving reimbursements and increasing services. In 2009, that hospital was named as one of the top 50 Gold Standard Critical Access Hospitals. The hospital has also had nearly $15 million in additions and renovations done in recent years.
Memorial Hospital received a multi-million dollar grant to implement a program that allows local physicians and pharmacists to have 24-hour-a-day electronic access to specialists, including an eICU program that will allow mobile medical monitoring of ICU patients by specialists at another location. This grant made Memorial Hospital the first critical care access hospital in Wyoming to be able to install such services.
Nordwick said he's excited to be moving to Decatur to further his career and goals in healthcare.
He has been married for 27 years, has three children and has been involved in numerous local activities in the past 10 years, including being a past president of both the Douglas Rotary and Lions Club, being a city council alderman, a board member of the Douglas Youth Hockey League, a member of the Moose Lodge, and has held several church-related positions.
He lists hobbies of racquetball, skiing, hunting, fishing, golf, reading, computers, and shooting trap. He served in the military from 1977-1980 with the United State Marine Corps.
Adams Health Network Vice Chairman Russ Flueckiger on Wednesday night expressed the board's appreciation to longtime administrator Marvin Baird "for everything you have done on behalf of the hospital."
Baird has been the longest running administrator in the history of Adams Memorial Hospital, having succeeded Andrew J. Barrett, II who was held the post from 1977-1989.
Ed Kauffman was the first official administrator, from 1966-1977. Thurman Drew was the business manager of the now 88-year old facility from 1954-1966.
Prior to Drew's appointment, the hospital had been run by a superintendent of nurses, including Miss Emilie Christ (1923-1935), Miss Elizabeth Pittman (1935-1941), Miss Nellie Mae Lowe (1941-1944), and Miss Florence Lichtenstiger (1944-1954)