Med center CEO

The Telluride Regional Medical Center Board of Directors is considering a handful of candidates for its interim CEO position, as a larger search is still underway to find a new permanent CEO. (Planet file photo)

Since former CEO Karen Winkelmann resigned at the end of September, the Telluride Regional Medical Center Board of Directors has been conducting a search for her replacement.

Since the process may take up to six months, the board has decided to hire an interim CEO that would serve in “more of a caretaker” role during the transition in leadership, according to board chair Richard Betts.

“It’s more of a caretaker position. We’re certainly not asking them to make any drastic changes. We have a great staff. We have a great organization. And we deliver great care to the community. We really don’t want anyone to change anything at this point until we find a permanent CEO that can take us the next level as we move toward our next hospital,” he told the Daily Planet Thursday. “ … Between the staff and the board we have a lot of contacts within the medical field of Colorado, so we think we can find a solution out there.”

The board held a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to consider one potential candidate — Tim Cashman, who is currently CFO at Estes Park Medical Center — and there are a handful of other candidates that still need to be interviewed, Betts added.

“He’s one of several candidates we’re looking at. We need to go through our process,” he said.

During Wednesday’s meeting, board members explained they planned to reach out to Cashman individually to introduce themselves. The board initially decided to move forward with another interim CEO candidate, but both parties soon realized it “just wasn’t the right fit,” Betts explained. Dan Caton, who Betts called “a friend of the medical center” and a retired executive, offered to temporarily step in, while the interim CEO search continued. 

While the timeline to find a permanent CEO will take months, Betts expects the interim position to be filled a lot sooner.

“Personally, I’d like to see it happen in the next couple of weeks. I’d say within the next two weeks would be ideal,” he said.

Diana Koelliker, medical director of Emergency & trauma services Telluride EMS director, explained she was transparent with Cashman when she had the chance to talk to him in explaining the medical center’s future needs and challenges, including staffing.

“We showed him some of our warts. We shared some things, because we all know we have some challenges right now. We have some leftover challenges from the pandemic. We have some staffing issues. We have some challenges as an organization,” she said, before adding, “ … I want somebody that’s going to walk along with me and tackle all of this stuff.”

Betts reiterated that point in talking about the need for a new hospital, which has been part of discussions regarding San Miguel County’s pending Society Turn project, and hiring more personnel.

“That will be a continuing focus, as well as the housing impact that we’re going through. That will impact our ability to keep quality personnel,” he said.

He commended Winkelmann’s efforts as well, which included helping the med center create the temporary COVID-19 clinic in the nearby Depot building.

“COVID had a tremendous impact on every organization, but certainly in the health field it had strain on the personnel at all levels. Karen did a great job. She raised a lot of grant money, and she helped us move over to the respiratory clinic in the depot,” he said.

The med center announced Winkelmann’s hiring in August 2019. The board will have its regular meeting Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. While an agenda was not immediately available as of press time Friday afternoon, Betts said the CEO search would most likely be discussed.

“We have a great management team and a great staff. The organization has delivered exemplary care throughout the pandemic, even though it’s been taxing on everyone,” he said. “But I feel very good about our organization. I’m looking forward to finding the permanent CEO to take us into that next level of building a new hospital and expanding services to the community that are so vitally needed.”

For more about the med center and the board, visit tellmed.org.