St. Luke CEO taking job in Mitchell County

News editor

St. Luke Hospital and Living Center CEO Jeremy Armstrong has accepted a job as CEO of Mitchell County Hospital and Health Systems in Beloit.

He said the move is to get closer to his wife, Tammy’s, parents so the Armstrongs and their children can visit more often. His last day at St. Luke will be June 6, and he will start June 16 in Beloit.

“I’m just hoping between now and then we can find a house,” he said Monday.

Armstrong joined St. Luke in March 2006. He leaves happy with the success of the hospital’s building and renovation project. The hospital raised about $1.2 million in possibly the worst recession since the 1930s. He credited staff members who go above and beyond and community support for that success.

“I’m certainly not the only one who helped make that happen,” he said.

He said the recruitment of Dr. Paige Hatcher is another highlight of his time here.

Armstrong said Beloit feels much like Marion as a small town, but the hospital is bigger and has more medical staff. Beloit’s somewhat larger population and its relative isolation from larger hospitals contribute to that, he said.

Like St. Luke, Mitchell County Hospital is considered a critical access hospital. The two hospitals have similar challenges — declining reimbursement for services, declining inpatient loads, difficulty recruiting physicians, and coping with the terms of the Affordable Care Act.

“The challenges that St. Luke faces are the same challenges a lot of critical access hospitals across the country face,” Armstrong said.

The St. Luke board is in discussions to bring in an interim CEO while conducting a full search for a permanent CEO.

“The people, the friends that we’ve made here over the last years will be the most difficult to leave,” Armstrong said.

Steve Smith has been a hospital board member since 2012, and he said Armstrong has done a good job of putting together a team that keeps things running smoothly.

“We’ve got some really outstanding people in departmental leadership,” Smith said.

He hopes that teambuilding ability can continue with Armstrong’s successor. He also said Armstrong has good professional connections and has his fingers on the pulse of the health care business in Kansas.

“I think that’s going to be hard to find,” Smith said.

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