Green River Star -


MHSC board makes interim CEO permanent


October 11, 2017

Irene Richardson, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s interim CEO since February, was officially promoted to the position Wednesday after a unanimous decision by the hospital’s board of trustees.

Richardson, a Green River native, has worked at the hospital since 1985, originally starting as a cash posting clerk. She became the senior budget and cost accountant two years later. In 2008, she was promoted to materials management director. She later became the hospital’s controller before taking over as the hospital’s CFO. Richardson was moved to an interim CEO position after the hospital board voted to remove Jerry Klein earlier this year.

The hospital board did conduct a search for a new CEO, but later suspended their search months ago. The search committee was unable to find someone who they felt would be a good fit for the hospital.

“We’ve had the opportunity to watch her in the role and were able to know in advance of her capabilities and her suitability for the position. Hardly any board is so blessed,” Richard Mathey, chairman of the MHSC board of trustees said in a press release.

“She has done a great job of managing money,” he said. “A review of staff at Memorial Hospital was necessitated due to the financial situation we were in. She has guided the board, as well as the entire staff of the hospital, in efforts to reduce staff in the appropriate areas through attrition.”

Initially, Richardson wasn’t interested in the position, only agreeing to take over until the board could recruit a permanent CEO. During the past seven months however, employees at the hospital and residents throughout the county asked her to keep the position. Those interested in seeing Richardson remain CEO included Sweetwater County Commissioner Wally Johnson, who was vocal during county commissioner meetings about her qualifications for the position.

“We had been through a lot and another change would have been difficult for the staff and organization,” Richardson said. “Finally, the board basically asked me, ‘if they drafted me, would I play?’”

After giving the question some thought, she decided she wanted to do whatever she could to help the hospital and couldn’t turn the board’s request down.

After the board approved Richardson’s appointment to the role, other employees were supportive of the decision.

“As an employee of the MHSC for over 30 years, she understands and deeply cares about the organization and Sweetwater County,” Chief Nursing Officer Kristy Nielson said in a press release. “Under Irene’s leadership, the family of MHSC will flourish. Irene is the perfect person to connect MHSC with our community.”

Richardson said her priorities for the hospital have not changed, saying the top responsibility the hospital has is taking care of patients and providing the best care it can. During the interim period, she focused on ensuring the hospital met its bond covenants by the end of the fiscal year, avoiding a situation where its cash reserves were below 75 days of cash on hand. In that scenario, the hospital would have been forced to hire an outside consultant to increase its revenues.

“As we move forward, we will continue take care of our patients and our community. We will also focus on managing our expenses to meet our budget,” Richardson said.

The hospital’s current budget is focused on generating cash flow from its operations to invest back into the facility. Richardson said they plan to grow hospital-provided services and add new equipment and services.

During the past decade, MHSC has undergone a lot of change, but Richardson said the hospital has adapted and survived through the years.

She said she decided to make a career out of working at MHSC in 1985 because she enjoyed the atmosphere and loves working with the staff and patients. She also enjoys the hospital industry and the challenge her job provides her.

“There will always be obstacles to tackle, but in the end, our goal is to help people get better, and that is a good thing and absolutely worth coming back to work for every day, Richardson said.”


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