Opinion: Schapper decision made in best interest of health care district | SierraSun.com
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Opinion: Schapper decision made in best interest of health care district

Karen Sessler, MD
Special to the Sun

The Tahoe Forest Hospital District, its board, and management have been under an unprecedented level of public scrutiny over the past year.

While this can be difficult and challenging it can also be an opportunity to learn, grow and improve as an organization.

As your elected hospital board we are charged with doing what is best for our community’s healthcare system. We have a duty to the people we serve, the taxpayers of the district, and the employees and medical staff that so expertly provide care.

Health care in this country is undergoing radical change and we are being forced to adapt, transform, do more with less and through it all provide quality, compassionate care to people who are often going through the most difficult time of their lives.

“We must continue to learn and grow as an organization to meet the needs of the community, the challenges of the changing health care environment, and, most importantly, to provide care.”

Your elected board members along with the current CEO Bob Schapper reached a mutual agreement that we would not enter into a new employment agreement with him when his current contract ends on June 30, 2015.

We came to this decision each using different criteria but all for the same reason. That reason is that this is what is best for our community’s health care district moving forward.

It is the board’s duty to govern and we have heard your desire to have more input. We propose that the organization implement our leadership succession plan.

This plan was developed years ago to provide stability in times of leadership transition — whether planned or unexpected. We want to hear your comments on this proposal at the next Regular meeting of the board, to be held Jan. 27.

The plan involves advancing our current Chief Operating Officer (COO) to the position of Interim CEO effective immediately.

We propose that Mr. Schapper will make himself available for consultation to the leadership for the remainder of his contract term.

The COO has managed much of the day-to-day operations of the district and is well qualified to assume the Interim CEO position.

As members of the leadership team assume responsibility for key projects that had been led by the current CEO it will be beneficial for the organization to be able to contact Mr. Schapper for consultation during this transition.

Uncertainty and abrupt leadership changes can be disruptive and damaging to any organization.

We propose that we take a few months breather after this major change and wait until July to begin the process of hiring a permanent CEO. We anticipate that the Interim CEO will be a candidate in that process.

The process of identifying and hiring a permanent CEO should be a thoughtful and deliberate one. It is crucial that key stakeholders are involved.

This includes the general public, community leaders, local employers, community organizations, our employees and medical staff.

Mr. Schapper joined our organization in October 2002. He challenged us to become the best mountain community healthcare system in the nation.

Under his leadership we achieved top patient satisfaction ratings, received national and state awards, and have transformed our facilities to meet unfunded state mandates and the modern needs of our community.

Our recent audit confirmed that we are well positioned financially to confront the challenges of healthcare reform.

One of Mr. Schapper’s significant legacies is that he transformed the Tahoe Forest Healthcare System into a learning organization that embraces innovation.

He challenged us all to ask questions, gather and evaluate data, think creatively, make changes and repeat that cycle of refinement. We must continue to learn and grow as an organization to meet the needs of the community, the challenges of the changing health care environment, and, most importantly, to provide care.

Your hospital board has heard that we need to improve communications and be more transparent. The board meetings will now held at the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District facility located at 11603 Donner Pass Rd and will be video streamed at http://www.ttctv.org.

Agendas and board materials are available on our website http://www.tfhd.com. Comments on this issue or others can be sent to the Clerk of the Board pbarrett@tfhd.com or made during public comment at meetings.

We are your hospital board — this is your health care district. Let’s work together to provide care and improve health.

Karen Sessler, MD, is president of the board of directors for the Tahoe Forest Hospital District.


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