The South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees appointed a new interim chief executive officer Aug. 15 in a special meeting held less than 24 hours after the abrupt and immediate retirement of former CEO Virgil Watson.
The new man in charge will be Jeff Bowman, an Arkansas City native and the chief executive officer of Transwise, LLC — the company that currently is conducting an audit of SCKMC without charging for its services.
“My plan is to be on site at least 40 hours per week,” he said Aug. 15. “I anticipate my first two weeks to be closer to 60 hours a week.”
Bowman was hired as a 1099 contractor at $9,000 per month, with no benefits, and will he be in Ark City early next week to begin on-site work.
“(This is) quite a bit less than what we’ve been paying,” said board chair Dan Jurkovich. At last report, Watson was earning $110,000 per year.
Bowman is planning to have meet-and-greet events from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 25-26 at SCKMC, following his first full week at the hospital.
“Please be sure to come by. … I look forward to meeting and working with y’all,” he posted Aug. 15 on Facebook.
Bowman was born at the old Arkansas City Memorial Hospital and began his education at IXL Elementary School before his family moved to the Dexter area. He moved back to Ark City for high school, where he was in band, choir and Ark Highs, and also was Student Council president.
Bowman graduated in 1981 as part of what he thinks is the only class to ever graduate from ACHS at the Agri-Business Building.
A tornado took the roof off the high school gym just one week before his graduation.
Most of Bowman’s extended family still lives in the Arkansas City area, including his uncle, Keith Broce; aunt, Pam Broce; and cousin, former City of Arkansas City public works director Eric Broce.
Bowman graduated in 1986 from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with a bachelor of business administration degree, with a double major in marketing and information systems. After graduating from Baylor, he immediately began his health care career.
Bowman has worked in the pharmaceutical and medical services industries, and even owned a Caribbean medical school from 2009 to 2014.
“I have been the CEO of Transwise, LLC — an international health care service, laboratory and IT company — for the past three years,” he said.
“After 30-plus years in health care, my passion has been to focus on failing health care organizations and getting them back to a healthy, profitable system.”
The Aug. 15 special meeting, which was held at 1:30 p.m. at SCKMC, began with an announcement that two different individuals had approached the board to assist with maintaining hospital operations.
In addition to Bowman, the chief executive officer of William Newton Hospital in Winfield, Ben Quinton, offered his time and also some assistance from William Newton’s chief financial officer, in light of the pending departure in a few weeks of SCKMC CFO Holly Harper.
No details regarding Quinton’s proposed assistance were provided at the meeting.
Board secretary Duane Oestmann offered two other options, both of which involved health care management companies located in Oklahoma.
However, Jurkovich said he would like to interview Bowman, citing his experience in turning around failing health care facilities.
Board attorney Otis Morrow said Bowman would offer an opportunity that had not yet presented itself.
“(He’s) a neutral party coming in,” Morrow said of Bowman.
“We really try to reach out to William Newton to consolidate some of these duplicated pieces of expensive equipment…”
Morrow indicated Bowman might have more luck in working out the details of such a consolidation than others had.
Facing the challenge
Bowman attended the meeting via telephone and answered all questions asked by the trustees, many of which had to do with operations.
He first acknowledged the tremendous amount of transition that has happened in recent months at SCKMC.
Bowman said Transwise works with hospitals to put individuals in place to manage the facilities permanently
He works with a team of CEOs in his position with the company. “I prefer to find local people to work in local communities,” he said.
Bowman shared his management style with the SCKMC Board of Trustees and answered several questions about the practices of Transwise.
He also commented on the recent incident in which the emergency room turned away a sick individual, resulting in a violation of a federal law.
“I’ve never heard of any hospital not knowing that law,” Bowman said.
Taking steps forward
The vote to hire Bowman as interim CEO was unanimous.
“The main thing is getting these charts turned around and collecting the money,” said board treasurer Jay Warren.
“I think Jeff (Bowman) would be good,” Oestmann said.
He added that he would like to see the trustees be able to back away a bit from day-to-day operations and allow Bowman to develop relationships with the employees with whom he will be working.
“I have faith it will take less time, since I was born and grew up here. Everyone has been extremely receptive that I met today,” Bowman said in the interview.
“I don’t want to brag on myself, but I have been pretty good at it, and know that with your input and support, we as a team will make South Central Kansas Medical Center one of the best rural hospital and clinic systems in Kansas.”