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Hospital appoints Donna Hefner as interim CEO
From Unit Clerk to RN to CEO
Sierra View District Hospital has named Donna Hefner as interim Chief Executive Officer.
The decision was made Tuesday night during closed session of a Sierra View Local Healthcare District Board of Directors’ special board meeting — one that immediate followed the standing-room-only open session where the Board dismissed Joe Stewart from his CEO responsibilities — making the information public Wednesday morning.
“After careful consideration, the Sierra View Local Healthcare District Board of Directors has decided to seek new leadership for the facility’s Chief Executive Officer position. Joe Stewart will no longer serve as the Chief Executive Officer effective January 16, 2013,” it said in the hospital’s press release. “With new and dramatic changes continuing to affect hospitals nationwide, the board decided to realign hospital leadership to more adequately deal with the changes at hand. The board looks forward to preparing for a new era in healthcare and will be aligning their upcoming strategic plan to meet the ever changing climate and hopes to continue to improve communication with the physicians and community.”
The release stated the Board commends Stewart for his past year with the facility.
“Under his leadership the hospital was able to improve its relationship and connectivity with the community. The Board wishes to thank Joe for his service to the hospital, community, physicians and the patients we serve,” it read before announcing Hefner’s appointment. “In the interim, Donna Hefner will serve as the acting Chief Executive Officer until a new CEO can be found. The board looks forward to preparing for a new era in healthcare and will be aligning their upcoming strategic plan to meet the ever changing climate and hopes to continue to improve communication with the physicians and community.”
Hefner, a senior-team member who serves as executive director of risk management, has assumed the interim position until a new CEO can be found.
“On short notice such as this, looking at what our options were, and talking with senior management, and basing it on her background, personality and character, it was a no brainer,” said Board Chairman Kent Sorrells, about appointing Hefner. “It was a natural and it was good to see support for her from [Wednesday] morning’s town hall meeting.”
The meeting was two-fold, Sorrells said, to inform employees of what transcribed Tuesday night and to introduce Hefner as the interim CEO.
Other possibilities included other senior team members, including one newer member who was a former CEO. But Sorrells said the Board believed it was important to have someone who knew the employees.
Hefner was born in Exeter and grew up in the Porterville area, attending Sunnyside Elementary, Pioneer Middle School, graduating from Monache High School and Porterville College, before graduating from the nursing program at College of the Sequoias, Visalia, and obtaining her bachelor degree from California State University Dominguez Hills, and her masters degree from Trident University.
Hefner began working at the hospital as a unit clerk, moving her way up to work as a certified nurses’ aide and later as a registered nurse. She took on leadership roles in 1998, when she became interim director of vice president of patient care services.
“I’ve had the opportunity to serve in many capacities, but never as interim CEO,” Hefner said. “I’m definitely up for the challenge. Having the support and feedback from staff has been encouraging. I’m looking forward to working with the community and physicians, welcoming patients to the organization, looking forward to feedback and to achieving the goals set forth in our strategic plan.”
In the meantime, the Board will began steps in the search for a permanent CEO, beginning with discussing if a recruitment firm is needed — something they plan on discussing at Tuesday’s regular scheduled board meeting.
The search can take as long as four to six months, especially since finding a CEO for a Valley hospital.
“We’re looking at this as something positive for the hospital. Our main concerns are safety and quality of care and providing for Porterville and surrounding areas,” Sorrells said. “It’s different than big cities. We’re looking at this differently — looking at people skills, leadership, someone willing to change. A good leader comes in and assesses the situation.”
Hefner and her husband, Brad, live in Springville. The couple has three children, ages 13, 16 and 19.
The next regular scheduled board meeting is set for 8 a.m. Tuesday in the SVDH boardroom at Sierra View District Hospital, 465 W. Putnam Ave.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.