Hospitalís new chief begins tenure today
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
June 18, 2012
St. John’s Medical Center’s seven-month wait for a full-time CEO is over.
Dr. Lou Hochheiser, a 76-year-old Jackson resident, begins his tenure as chief executive officer of the hospital today.
“I’m excited about the opportunities the hospital has to become the center of health and wellness for this community,” Hochheiser said.
While Hochheiser has touted this vision since he was offered the job in April, he also said he wants to be receptive to input from hospital staff.
“I plan on listening to the people who are working on the front lines and learning in more detail what the issues that need to be addressed are,” Hochheiser said.
On Friday, Hochheiser finished his last day of work as an executive for Humana, a Fortune 100 health insurance and services company. He said he is jumping directly into his next role, and he never seriously considered retirement.
“I still feel like I’ve got something to offer,” Hochheiser said. “Working in my own community is a fitting next step for me.”
Hochheiser is a family physician but has worked in health care in the private sector and in academics.
The hospital board offered Hochheiser the CEO job two months ago after considering more than 130 applicants during a five-month search process.
“I think we were all convinced he could hit the ground running,” board President Michael Tennican said.
Trustee Zach Hall led the search. He said Hochheiser’s understanding of the financial environment of modern health care will be beneficial to St. John’s.
Tennican and Hall agreed it helps that Hochheiser is a resident.
“The competition for the spot was certainly wide open,” Tennican said, “but Lou is a Jackson Hole resident. He’s familiar with this community.”
Hochheiser earned his medical degree from the New Jersey Medical College in Newark, N.J., in 1962. He has taught at Brown University and the University of Vermont, among other schools. From 1997 to 1999, he was the senior vice president and executive medical director of PennCare. From 1999 to 2004, before his job at Humana, he was medical director of TriCare Mid-Atlantic, the health care program for military service members.
Hochheiser is taking the reigns from CFO and acting CEO John Kren. Kren is returning full time to his post as CFO. Kren was put in charge after former CEO Pam Maples retired in October 2011.