Wyoming Medical Center announces new CEO
Posted on June 14th, 2017
Michele Chulick has been appointed the new president and CEO of Wyoming Medical Center, the largest hospital in central Wyoming.
Chulick, who will begin on July 17, will take the reins from Vickie Diamond, who announced in November that she would retire. She will step down Aug. 1. During the two weeks between Chulick’s arrival and Diamond’s departure, Chulick will meet with staff, learn the center’s culture and policies and transition into the position, according to the hospital’s announcement.
Diamond has been CEO of the hospital for nine years, steering WMC through the turbulent passage of the Affordable Care Act and, more recently, staff layoffs.
Chulick previously was the president of the Ventures Division at Children’s Health System of Texas, according to a WMC press release. CHST “is a health care system with 616 beds and more than 950,000 patients per year.”
Edith Selby, the vice chairwoman of WMC’s board of directors, said the board and search committee decided on Chulick three weeks ago. The time between then and the announcement Tuesday was spent negotiating, she said.
The search committee was composed of six board members, a physician and a community member with past ties to the medical center.
“Michele has a great background,” Selby said. “She’s been in health care systems and hospitals since 1979. She has the background, she has the education, she has the presence and the knowledge and the professional elements that just fit Casper, Wyoming, and Wyoming Medical Center.”
Chulick has a bachelor’s of science in nursing from Duke University and a master’s of business administration in finance from Wayne State University. She has worked in various capacities in the health care industry since 1979, according to the release.
Before serving as president at Children’s Health System of Texas, Chulick was an executive vice president and chief administrative officer at the company. She worked as the associate vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Miami Health System’s health division.
Selby said the search committee had “a huge pool of candidates” that it narrowed to 30, then to six people who came to visit the WMC campus. Those six was then trimmed to two.
“The candidates were here at Wyoming Medical Center meeting with groups of employees and directors and physicians and community members as well as the board,” she said. “Taking all of that input into consideration, the search committee and the board of directors fully agreed on Michele as their choice.”
Chulick’s predecessor, Diamond, oversaw expansions of 105-year-old WMC’s services and the creation of the $42 million McMurry Tower. She was at the helm when the Affordable Care Act was passed, legislation that fundamentally reshaped the landscape of health care in the United States.
She also oversaw rough times at the hospital as the state’s economy took a turn. As a result of those and other pressures, WMC laid off 58 workers a year ago.
Selby said Chulick has seen the hospital’s financials and that she is “financially savvy,” given her educational background.
Chulick will take over in an uncertain health care world. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, the much-heralded Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. While the bill is being rewritten by the Senate, including by Wyoming Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, the House’s version could potentially increase the level of uncompensated care hospitals like WMC would have to absorb.
Diamond said that the AHCA, as passed by the House, would cost the hospital at least $70 million in the coming decade. That number would likely be higher, given uncompensated care.
“Well, there’s still so much uncertainty around all of that,” Selby said of further health care changes by national lawmakers. “The best we could hope for was to find someone who was fully aware and had a good idea of what has happened and what could happen in the future and what they would do here at WMC given those many variables.”
She added that Chulick brings a “good understanding of health care systems that we in Wyoming don’t fully understand.”
“I mean that it’s unlikely that all of our small rural community hospitals in this part of the country will be able to remain functioning as they are for a long time,” Selby explained, “and the trend is to affiliate with larger facilities that can provide some synergy in operations. Michele knows about that; she knows about affiliating and joint ventures.”
Mountain View Regional Hospital, a private facility on Casper’s east side, also named a new CEO earlier this year.