Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital
MANISTIQUE – After nearly five years at the helm of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, CEO George Montgomery is hanging up his hat and heading into retirement. The SMH Board of Trustees accepted Montgomery’s letter of intent to retire during Monday’s regular meeting.
Prior to being hired by SMH in November 2008, Montgomery worked for downstate Mercy Memorial Hospital. According to Board Chairperson Don Perigo, Montgomery had been selected by the board in part due to his experience in the logistics of building a new hospital – a priority for the board at that time.
“Clearly, George did what we hired him to do and we really do appreciate that,” he said.
Montgomery also worked on the hospital’s other goals, including implementing a plan to improve the way staff treats the public and filling needed positions. Currently, the hospital has both a full time general and orthopedic surgeon, as well as a long-awaited fourth physician for its emergency room.
“If you put all of that together, it’s been quite a successful five year ride for the hospital,” Perigo said.
Montgomery has hinted toward retirement for quite some time, Perigo explained, encouraging the SMH board to have a succession plan in place for when he decided to step aside.
“We knew that this day was coming,” he said. “We hope that he really, really does enjoy his time away from here.”
Montgomery’s last day will be Sept. 27, but the former CEO will still be “available” for two months following this date for any consulting the board may need, Perigo explained.
“It’s not like everything stops … He leaves behind, I think, a pretty solid senior leadership team that will give the board time to further develop our strategy,” he said. “We will have something good in place going forward. What he’s left us – the legacy – we can build on that.”
While the board has no specific timeline for replacing Montgomery, Perigo explained it will be only a matter of time.
“I don’t want anyone to worry about next steps or that sort of thing,” he said. “We certainly plan to move forward as quickly as we can.”
One stipulation the board has decided upon – the new CEO must have a grasp of the financial aspect of the hospital’s operation. As part of this goal, the board wishes to have a strengthened presence with the hospital, Perigo said, in order to ensure strong financial support internally.
“Now that we have the new building, we have the quality of the staff that we want, and the quality program in place, now the financials are the big, critical thing,” he said.
The next CEO will have to address cost reports and issues with reimbursements from the government, as well as a general uncertainty with the healthcare system, Perigo explained. While public opinion will be considered as the hospital moves forward, he noted that the hospital is a business and must act accordingly.
“We will balance everything we can and make sure we have strength moving forward,” he said.
In the meantime, Perigo said he and the board will ensure Montgomery knows how much his time at the hospital is appreciated.
“Schoolcraft County and this whole area of the Upper Peninsula owe him a gratitude of thanks for the job that he’s done,” he said.