Huey ‘at home’ as PMC’s interim CEO

Ken Huey

Ken Huey
MEEKER I Ken Huey doesn’t know how long he’ll be the interim chief executive officer at Pioneers Medical Center.
But, however long it turns out to be, one thing is for sure: He feels at home.
“From a CEO standpoint, I’ve quickly felt this is my hospital,” Huey said. “It’s been a great experience.”
Huey took over after former CEO Bob Omer resigned after six years at the helm. Huey started at PMC on Feb. 24. He wasn’t sure what kind of situation he was stepping into.
“What I saw was an organization that was very appreciative of their previous CEO,” Huey said. “Certainly, his decision to leave caused many employees to go through their own sadness and grief, but I didn’t see that affecting anyone’s relationship to me at all. I couldn’t have felt more welcome.”
Huey’s role is that of a caretaker. But at the same time, he’s the acting CEO.
“The board said you’re the interim, but we want you to run things like you’re going to be here for a long, long time,” Huey said. “They didn’t want a placeholder. They wanted me to come in and keep things moving forward.”
And he has.
“Ken is doing real well in leading Pioneers while the board is actively engaged in recruiting a new CEO,” said Dr. Albert Krueger, the hospital’s chief of staff.
The hospital has announced the hiring of Dr. Frank Tong, who will start at PMC the first of July. He’s coming to Meeker from Broomfield.
“He was recruited prior to my coming on the scene,” Huey said. “From everything I’ve heard about him from people who have met him, they’re excited about him joining our physicians.”
Along with full-time Drs. Albert Krueger and Kellie Turner, PMC has been using visiting physicians to provide temporary coverage until it can fill the two openings on its medical staff.
“We’re still searching for another doc,” Huey said. “The board has approved what they call a four-physician model. Four physicians will make for a comfortable and solid arrangement.”
Adding Dr. Tong will take some of the pressure off of Drs. Krueger and Turner.
“With Dr. Tong joining us, certainly we’re not feeling the pressure when we had just two (full-time doctors),” Huey said. “On the other hand, we do intend to be moving forward with our search, but I don’t think anybody had put a timeline on it. It’s more of a matter of taking our time to make sure it is a good fit with the community and a good fit with the other doctors.”
The PMC board has undergone its own changes. Kris Borchard, who had been the board president, decided not to run for re-election in May after learning she had pancreatic cancer. Dondi Glasscock, another longtime member, decided not to seek re-election. Two new members were voted onto the board in the May election — Mike Hoke and Todd Young.
“Dondi had served on the board 11 years and Kris nine and both had served as president,” Huey said. “So those were significant losses in the sense that it’s hard to replace people with that much experience, but others have demonstrated a willingness to take on that leadership.”
At the first board meeting after the election, Tom Allen was voted the new president, Paul “Buckshot” Sheridan was elected vice president and Diane Dunham will continue as secretary/treasurer.
The board also changed its meeting time from an evening meeting to a noon meeting on the third Thursday of the month.
“It’s going to be sort of a trial thing to see if works for everybody,” Huey said.
While looking to hire another doctor, the board is also looking to find a full-time CEO to replace Huey.
“You assume it might be four or five months going in,” Huey said of the duration of his role as interim CEO. “That allows a board not to feel rushed in making a decision to find a person who is the right match. Beyond that, it is kind of uncertain.”
The search for a new CEO is ongoing.
“The board has had two candidates come to Meeker in the last several weeks and interviewed them,” sad Huey, who is not on the search committee. “After those interviews … the board did make the decision that they did want to see more candidates. I anticipate there will be more (interviews) in June.”
Huey, 67, retired in 2006. His wife lives back in Longmont, where he was the CEO of the hospital there for 25 years.
“After three years or so (of retirement), I decided I really missed it,” he said. “So I thought interim work might be a role that may make sense for me. One thing led to another and I ended up with Quorum Health Resources (a hospital management company) and this assignment.”
It has been a good fit … for now. As much as Huey has enjoyed his stint at PMC, he likes the “interim” part of his title.
“While that thought (of being the permanent CEO at Pioneers) is very tempting and I have really enjoyed this — it has been just a great experience and I find it refreshing — I find total retirement is not what I want to do, so it seems the interim work fits,” he said.
So, for however long he remains at Pioneers, Huey will keep doing what he’s been doing.
“We’re not just keeping the lights on,” he said. “We’re making decisions for the long haul.”
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Former Pioneers CEO Bob Omer continues to serve as a trustee on Meeker’s Town Board and is pursuing other opportunities in the medical field.
“My search effort continues, and I have some prospects in Colorado, the midwest and the northwest. Nothing at a decision point just yet, but I will let you know when that happens,” Omer said recently.
His wife, Deb, was a second-grade teacher at Meeker Elementary School this year. She’ll return to teaching first grade next year, said MES Principal Jason Hightower.