White named as hospital CEO
Ryan Summerlin March 19, 2013
KREMMLING – The Kremmling Memorial Hospital District board has hired interim co-CEO Cole White to fill the position as the district’s new chief executive officer.White and Dr. Mark Paulsen shared the responsibilities of the position since the retirement of former CEO Bill Widener, who quit the position without public explanation in January.With a knack for explaining complicated hospital finances in a way an average person can understand, White has much to say about strategies for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, benefits of secure and advanced medical record-keeping, and the overall 21st Century model of health care.It’s evident the business side of the medical field has long been White’s passion.”I like to think of myself, first and foremost, as a health care guy,” White said on Friday. “I think I know health care and how it can help and impact a community by its presence and its lack of presence.”White was the hospital district’s chief financial officer for longer than three years, helping to see the district take on its boldest move in years, building a new hospital in Granby.He grew up on his family’s ranch in Charlo, Mont., a ranch with more than 600 acres and 200 head of cattle, and “occasionally we would dabble in farming whenever we had the desire to lose money,” White said.White majored in finance at the University of Wyoming, then pursued a management, policy and finance master’s degree in health care administration at Washington State University. While there, he interned at Providence Health & Services working with a network of hospitals in Washington; he worked in a public accounting firm, then with Quorum Health Resources in Colorado consulting for hospitals. From there he became the director of operations for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association; and for three years, White worked under Sue Birch, who presently is executive director of the health care policy and finance department for the state of Colorado.The health care landscape, according to White, is changing in the system of reimbursement of Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies. The focus is shifting toward holding health care facilities accountable for keeping people well rather than just treating the sick.”We need to do more to make sure a patient stays healthy so we don’t see them back in the hospital,” White said. For health care facilities behind the curve on this general course, costs of operation will be going up at the same time reimbursements are going down, he said.The district’s recently adopted strategic plan embraces the five pillars of community, growth, technology, organization and partnership. Of the latter, White points to Centura to the east and south and Yampa Valley to the west, saying there may be ways to strengthen relationships with those organizations. For technology, the focus is advancements in billing and new medical record solutions for the district’s hospitals.”We are moving forward with a lot of exciting improvements and we feel we have the exact right man for the role right now in house, and that’s Cole White,” said Kremmling Memorial Hospital District Board President Bernie Murphy. “We need a CEO that’s got a strong financial background and understands the regulations thoroughly, especially with all the changes in health care coming up. Not only is he totally qualified, but he’s already working for us.””Over the last few weeks, it has become apparent that we did not need to do a CEO search,” said interim co-CEO Paulsen, the district’s chief of staff who correspondingly is being considered for Chief Medical Officer of the district, a position that would report to a future Chief Operating Officer. “We had an excellent candidate right in front of us,” Paulsen continued. “Cole has developed considerable positive momentum and I have no doubt that he will continue to excel in this job.”The district plans to bring on a Chief Operating Officer by August, according to White, who will oversee departments such as clinics, radiology, lab, and physical therapy. “It will allow the CEO to plan and oversee rather than to manage.”Meanwhile, White’s management skills are practiced even beyond the workplace. He has five children and another five through marriage. “Time management is key at my house,” White said. “We don’t have a lot of time wasted.” By default, there are no cable TV, satellite or Xboxes at home due to screen time cutting into sports and community activities. “There just isn’t time,” he said.