The Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) Board of Trustees announced on Tuesday that CCMH President and CEO Bill Bruce will retire from the hospital on December 31.
Bruce has been the hospital’s CEO since April 2012.
“I’ve had a fulfilling and great career and as I get to retirement age I’m looking forward to the next chapter, whatever that may be,” Bruce said.
His healthcare career started when he was a volunteer fireman and first responder in Cambridge, Iowa, where he grew up.
He worked as a paramedic at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames for about 10 years and then moved into administration in Ottumwa in emergency services and ambulatory care.
He took his first CEO position at age 37 at Lucas County Health Center in Chariton.
“Bill is going to be missed,” said Tom Gustafson, chairman of the board of trustees. “He certainly deserves to move on to retirement.”
Gustafson said that Bruce has been an effective leader at the hospital.
“He’s a person who has been ahead of the game in his ideas of what needs to be done in order to move the hospital ahead,” he said. “I’ve always found Bill to be innovative and thinking ahead and knowing the challenges.”
Gustafson credited Bruce with pushing to expand services offered at CCMH, which he said has helped keep the hospital on the path toward profitability.
“He has been a real proponent of expanding services to the extent that doing so makes sense,” Gustafson said.
CCMH added providers for obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, general surgery, family medicine, family and child counseling, pediatrics, and emergency services under Bruce.
Bruce said that when he arrived in 2012, the board of trustees was unified in wanting CCMH to transition from being a smaller rural referral hospital to a community hospital.
“I believe the board of trustees had a lot more insight than many people might give them credit for in looking to a future where CCMH is an important community resource,” Bruce said.
The expansion of services would not have been possible without the support of the community, Bruce said.
CCMH Executive Director of Marketing and Development Donald Luensmann said Bruce was instrumental in implementing the hospital’s patient transportation service, which has transported more than 6,000 people and given more than 12,000 rides.
“That program is run almost entirely by volunteers and Bill had a lot to do with that program being implemented,” Luensmann said. “It’s very successful.”
He also credited Bruce with helping launch the Good Samaritan Center Thrift Shop.
“Bill’s forward-looking philosophy has done a lot to keep the hospital financially sound,” Gustafson said. “One thing the board will be looking for is someone who shares that same philosophy.”
Bruce knows that change is inevitable and that what worked for hospital management in the past may not work in the future, Gustafson said.
“Things change too quickly,” he said. “We have to be able to keep pace with how healthcare is at present.”
Bruce’s decision to announce his retirement well in advance will help CCMH transition to his replacement, Gustafson said.
“We hope to be able to make a choice in a reasonably short period of time - 30 to 60 days,” he said. “We have time to work through this and not be hasty.”
Once the new CEO is hired, Bruce will work with him or her until the end of the year.
“During the transition they will become familiar with operation of the hospital so when January 1 comes along that person will be fully ready to act as CEO,” Gustafson said.
Bruce said he and his wife are working through what to do next.
He plans to continue volunteering with his church and with the Chamber & Development Council of Crawford County.
He may even put in some time at the Good Samaritan Center Thrift Shop, he said.
“With any luck at all I’ll be at least trying to swing a golf club somewhere in the middle of January in 72 degree air,” Bruce said. “Probably not at par – unless it’s a very short course.”