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By Dan Rudy 

Rang to succeed Sanger as hospital CEO

 

Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Hospital CEO candidates Aaron McPherson, Jeff Lyle and Robert Rang pose for a picture following an evening open house at the Nolan Center Aug. 19. The candidates met with the public who provided feedback on the evening to the Wrangell Medical Center Board for its consideration. The next day, the board extended an offer to Rang, who is coming most recently from Kodiak.

Wrangell Medical Center's Board of Directors announced Robert Rang will take over as the hospital CEO once Marla Sanger steps down Oct. 30.

Rang is currently the long-term care administrator for the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center. He will relocate to Wrangell the first week of October and begin working on Oct. 12, allowing him three weeks to work alongside Sanger as he transitions into the position.

When Sanger announced her intention to step down in June, her employer PeaceHealth confirmed it would not continue its management contract with WMC. The medical services company has been managing the the hospital on a transitional basis since 2012.

Hospital board members decided to direct the search for a new CEO, rather than contract with a hiring agency. Putting out advertisements in a selection of medical publications, the board quickly received close to 40 applications from medical professionals around the country and as far away as Uganda.

A board selection committee whittled this down to nine or ten top candidates, which included Aaron McPherson, WMC's current director for operations and rehabilitative services. The pool was narrowed to the top three candidates following teleconferenced interviews with applicants further afield.

"I think it went really well," board president Terri Henson said of the process.

Top candidates Rang and Jeffrey Lyle, of Texas, were flown to the community where they joined with McPherson last week to tour the community and meet with hospital and city staff. Together, they met with the WMC board and members of the public at the Nolan Center Aug. 19.

Residents were encouraged to submit their thoughts after meeting the candidates, and Henson said the suggestions were appreciated.

"I was really happy with that part of the process," she said. "We had quite a few people put their input into that box. We read every one of them."

"Turnout's been great," Rang said of the open house. "I can tell everybody is interested in the success of the hospital."

Henson recalled the board had its work cut out for it the next day as all three candidates are talented, making it difficult to choose.

Rang brings with him experience as the long-term care administrator for the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center. He worked previously as the chief nurse executive for the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel. Rang also served in the Army on active-duty and in the reserves for 28 years. He is a registered nurse and holds masters degrees in both health administration and nursing.

For the past nine years, Lyle has served as an interim healthcare executive for a consultancy, directing various levels of hospital and clinical administration for health organizations across the country. Now that his wife has retired from active duty in the military, the two are looking for a more permanent residence and have some experience with Alaska. Lyle has more than three decades of administrative experience.

McPherson is the current director of operations for WMC's long term care and rehabilitation services and coordinates the hospitals' visiting specialists. He and his wife have been in Wrangell since March 2014. Previously, McPherson was director of rehabilitation services at Artesia General Hospital in New Mexico. He has a doctorate of physical therapy from the University of South Carolina and is expecting to receive his masters of business administration next May.

Deliberating Thursday morning, the board unanimously decided to extend the offer to Rang.

"We really liked him," Henson explained. In addition to his experience, board members liked that he and his wife, Brenda, were familiar with Alaska, and with critical access hospitals like WMC. Rang also has experience as a certified nursing assistant.

"He knows what it's like," Henson said. "I think that's important when you have a small hospital."

"I am really looking forward to becoming part of the team," Rang said afterward.

He will become part of that team even before officially taking over as CEO. Along with Sanger, McPherson, and hospital CFO Doran Hammett, Rang will attend the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association's annual conference in the Anchorage area, beginning Sept. 23.

Once he being work at WMC, Rang said he would like to focus on the hospital's recruitment process, addressing staffing turnover. Involved with the construction process of Kodiak's new facility, he planned to continue working toward development of a new facility for Wrangell.

"I feel I can bring those skills here as well," he said.

Regarding finances, Rang felt the hospital's new billing contract with TruBridge would be a positive development. Earlier this month the company assumed responsibility for WMC's billing services for the next two years, which Sanger has explained should help reduce the hospital's outstanding accounts. Accounts receivable currently stand at around $4 million.

 

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