Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 29, 2008 Issue
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Honors Precede New CEO at CRMC

By Jeanne Sager
HARRIS — The man hand-picked to run Catskill Regional Medical Center out of financial distress has one of the highest honors of any hospital administrator in the country.
Gerald Skoda, interim president of the CRMC board, said Steve Ruwoldt was head of Lutheran Hospital in Cleveland when the facility earned an unprecedented 100 on its review by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
“That’s like unheard of!” Skoda said.
It’s actually a feat accomplished by just .2 percent of hospitals nationwide that JCAHO reviews.
The second clincher for Ruwoldt was his staff at Lutheran.
“He ran that hospital – that’s larger than ours – with a staff the same size as ours,” Skoda said.
The new chief executive will officially begin work Monday.
He’ll be the first permanent head since former CEO Art Brien resigned in September.
The hospital has seen three interim heads since then – including Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Cafasso who got the boot in early November.
Holding down the fort since then has been the triumvirate of Chief Financial Officer Nick Lanza, Chief Nursing Officer Kate Thomas (who was only appointed last fall) and Stuart Hirsch, director of critical operations.
Ed Wenzke, a representative of the hospital’s turnaround firm, Navigant, has been acting as chief operating officer.
“We’ve had no CEO in a long time,” said Darrell Supak, a member of the CEO selection committee who also serves on both the CRMC board and the Greater Hudson Valley Health System Board. “I think the CEO position being filled will help unify the staff and restore confidence in and of itself.”
Supak said the committee had 14 candidates to pick from, which they quickly narrowed to six, then to two and finally to Ruwoldt.
“He has a very strong background in revenue cycle issues which we’re interested in at this hospital,” Supak noted. “And he has a background in working with a number of alliances, similar to the CRMC/[Orange Regional Medical Center] alliance.”
Supak said highlights of the hospitals were Ruwoldt has been an administrator included not just that JCAHO score but selection three years running as one of the best places to work in Northeast Ohio.
Ruwoldt will go from president of Lutheran, where he was responsible for overall operations and the financial viability of the 204-bed acute care hospital with 750 full-time employees and annual gross revenues of $233 million, to CEO of CRMC.
He’ll manage day-to-day operations while overall management will be under control of the Greater Hudson Valley Health System in the local facility’s new affiliation with Orange Regional Medical Center.
Ruwoldt holds a masters degree in health administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. and bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and biology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.
Before taking over at Lutheran, Ruwoldt served as vice president of Professional Services at Pinnacle Health System, a four-hospital system in Harrisburg, Pa.
There Ruwoldt’s responsibilities included oversight of pharmacy, radiology, radiation oncology, MRl, laboratory, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, behavioral health, patient transport and materials management at all four hospitals.
Along with wife Linda and 9-year-old son Peter, Ruwoldt has already sold his home in Ohio and moved into Sullivan County, Skoda said.
"The community truly has a terrific and necessary healthcare resource in Catskill Regional Medical Center," says Ruwoldt. “I'm extremely honored to be the new CEO and to welcome the opportunity to be a part of the community."
The new board of CRMC will hold its first official meeting August 1, to begin putting the pieces together for a new hospital.
“Perception is what we’ve got to turn around,” Skoda said. “It IS a good hospital; we get a lot of satisfied customers.
“We have to start getting people to tell their stories on the street.”

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