Illness has made Jim Baer decide he will not return from a medical leave he took earlier this month from his position as president and CEO at Highland District Hospital, the hospital announced Tuesday.
Baer will be taking the time to focus on his health and family after being diagnosed with recurring Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the body’s immune system, the hospital said in a prepared statement.
“Jim’s leadership and dedication have placed Highland District Hospital in a positive position for the future. We appreciate his commitment to the organization over the past seven years and wish Jim and his family the best,” Barbara Yochum, president of the HDH Board of Governors, said.
Yochum said that Randy Lennartz, currently the hospital’s chief financial officer, has been named interim president and CEO. She said Lennartz served as interim CEO during a similar situation last year.
While no time table has been set to hire a permanent replacement for Baer, Yochum said a committee to search for a new CEO was appointed Monday night. She said the committee is made up of some of the members of the hospital’s 20-person board of governors, and that the committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
She said the hospital will look both within its current staff and outside the staff for a new CEO and president.
“Since the committee has not met yet a specific direction has not been set, but we will look at all options to find the best candidate,” Yochum said.
Baer has been the president and CEO of Highland District Hospital since 2009.
“During the first years of his tenure, Baer led the organization through some challenging economic times. As a result of his leadership during that time, Highland District Hospital was the only hospital in the region with a positive bottom line. He also led the reorganization of OB services to assure the region had continued OB services, as several other hospitals had shut down their OB services,” HDH said in the news release.
Under Baer’s leadership, HDH has been recognized nationally as a top 10 percent hospital by Hospital Grades, received the National Research Corporation Pathways Award for Most Improved Hospital for Inpatient Services, received the Ohio Hospital Association Progress Award for Safety, was recognized by iVantage as the fourth Best Critical Access Hospital in Ohio, and was nationally recognized by Home Care Elite, according to the news release.
The hospital said that in a statement to its staff, Baer thanked the board, staff, physicians, and volunteers for their support as they work together to serve the health care needs of the community.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.