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Working through the transition

Written by corres2

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Photo courtesy of Stacy Neubeck
Curt Hohman, at left, and Mark Vortherms are getting to know Avera Marshall’s employees and operations as interim co-leaders of the hospital. The two officially started work last week after former regional president and CEO Mary Maertens announced she was stepping down.

MARSHALL — Avera Marshall Medical Center is in a time of change, as the search for new leadership gears up.

But although they’re transitional, Mark Vortherms and Curt Hohman say they will take an active role as interim co-leaders for the hospital.

“The intent is to have at least one of us in the facility most days, especially early on,” Vortherms said Monday. He and Hohman are starting out by meeting with Avera Marshall leadership and employees, and getting settled in their new role.

“Mark and I, we’re relationship builders,” Hohman said.

Vortherms and Hohman were named as interim leaders when Mary Maertens announced she would be stepping down as Avera Marshall regional president and CEO last month. Both have more than 20 years of experience working with physicians and rural hospitals. Before stepping into the co-leader positions, Vortherms was serving as Avera Medical Group vice president of Primary Care, and Hohman was serving as senior vice president of Managed Facilities.

The two officially stepped into the interim leadership positions last week. Hohman said they met with the hospital’s administrative council, but they didn’t plan on only meeting with leadership.

“We really want to get well-rounded feedback,” he said.

Over the past week, they met with employees, physicians and advanced practitioners at Avera Marshall, and held events like employee forums, Vortherms said.

“It’s a great opportunity to get to know staff members,” he said.

“They have been very open,” Hohman said. “People are willing to talk.”

At the same time, the search process for a new hospital CEO is getting underway. Hohman said a national search firm is working with the Avera Marshall hospital board and key stakeholders to get an idea of what kind of leadership characteristics and experience are needed in a candidate.

“There’s a lot of information-gathering,” he said. Then, the position will be advertised nationally. Finalists for the position would get a chance to meet on site with key Avera Marshall representatives, and be interviewed by the board, he said.

The plan is to have a new permanent leader in place at the hospital by early 2021.

While their role at Avera Marshall is transitional, Vortherms and Hohman said they can still be hands-on leaders if needed.

“This isn’t a maintenance mode,” Hohman said. “It’s a fluid environment.” He and Vortherms would have the ability to evaluate day-to-day operations at the hospital and make changes if need be. However, he said, any changes would be made with “lots of feedback” from advisers and hospital staff.

Hohman said there are many things going right at Avera Marshall.

“To see the growth and development (over the past 10 years) is very impressive,” he said. He said it was also “wonderful to see” Avera Marshall serve patients from around the area.

Vortherms said he was impressed by the level of dedication shown by staff and leadership at Avera Marshall.

“We’ve had a warm welcome,” he said.

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