Carl Behne, pictured in 2014 during construction at the Greene County Medical Center, resigned last week as CEO. HERALD FILE PHOTO

Medical center begins search for new CEO

The Greene County Medical Center will begin the new year in need of a new chief executive.

Carl Behne resigned last week from his position as CEO after eight years, the medical center board of directors announced.

Behne accepted a position as chief strategy officer of Exemplar Care in West Des Moines, a new venture specializing in direct primary care — no insurance is accepted — started by Dr. Jon Van Der Veer, formerly chief medical officer at the Greene County Medical Center.

“Carl has played a critical role in the development and success of Greene County Medical Center,” board chairman Jim Schleisman said in a statement, “and while his leadership will be missed, the medical center stands strong to meet the needs of the health care demands of the future.”

The board announced it will begin an immediate search for Behne’s successor in coordination with UnityPoint Health–Des Moines.

The process is likely to take several months.

The medical center’s current leadership team — Katie Heldt, chief nurse executive; Christa Simons, chief operating officer; and Heather Paris, chief administrative officer/chief financial officer — will provide interim supervision of the hospital.

During his tenure as CEO, Behne oversaw construction of a $22.5 million expansion and renovation that improved access to emergency care, in particular.

Breaking ground in 2014, it was the medical center’s largest building project since construction of the hospital itself in 1937.

“While the new portion looks large, it’s really about realigning current services to better meet the health care needs of the 21st century,” Behne told The Jefferson Herald at the time.

He also shepherded the medical center through the dissolution of its partnership with McFarland Clinic that eventually led to establishment of the Greene County Family Medicine Clinic. The clinic now boasts more than a half-dozen providers, including a pediatrician and a newly hired psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, the facility’s first in-house behavioral health provider.

Behne served during a time of almost unprecedented upheaval in health care, from implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to privatization in Iowa of Medicaid.

In that time, the medical center also ended a 79-year-old tradition of delivering babies, citing an inability to keep expectant moms from leaving the county as the chief reason for shutting down its maternity unit — part of a growing trend of rural hospitals getting out of obstetrics.

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