Hospital names new CEO: Joe Woodin

Meet South Peninsula Hospital’s new Chief Executive Officer: Joseph Woodin.

The hospital announced his hiring Tuesday. The search began shortly after longtime CEO Bob Letson announced his impending retirement in August 2017 and included dozens of candidates, according to the release from the hospital.

Woodin has a master of science in administration and a bachelor of science in industrial engineering. He worked as an industrial engineer in manufacturing and the service industry before his foray into the medical world. He said that in health care, the same position he held as an industrial engineer is called a management engineer, which is how he says he “cut his teeth” in learning the operations of hospitals.

He said that since his wife died of cancer five years ago, he’s been looking to settle in a unique place to live that he wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Woodin was approached by the hospital’s search committee through an online job site.

“Like many things in life that have changed, it was done over the internet,” he said.

Woodin came for a week-long visit and said that, having spent much of his time at similar critical access hospitals, he found South Peninsula Hospital a “near perfect” fit.

“I was very enamored and touched by the hospital and the community,” he said.

Woodin spent 17 years as the president and CEO of Gifford Health Care and Gifford Medical Center in Vermont, and more recently was the president and CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. The hospital’s board voted to fire Woodin from that position in 2017 after he had spent just over a year there.

According to a report by the Boston Globe, the board gave no reason other than that Woodin’s vision for the hospital did not align with theirs. Hospital board chairman Timothy Sweet told the Globe that “Woodin did nothing nefarious or inappropriate.”

The board’s move caused shock and criticism among the Martha’s Vineyard community, and Woodin himself was outspoken at the time in regard to his confusion over being dismissed.

He will be relocating from Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, and is expected to begin at SPH by March 26, according to the release.

Woodin said his plans for his time at SPH include working to keep up with changes in health care.

“I don’t think hospitals can really ‘keep things status quo’ because the environment continues to change dramatically,” he said.

He said some focuses of his work will be to keep the hospital successful and independent, which he said the board seems to favor. This includes managing the hospital’s finances and continuing to monitor the quality of care the community gets.

In the landscape of Alaska’s increasingly expensive health care industry, Woodin said trying to provide as many services locally will be important to avoid residents outsourcing their needs to places like Seattle. He said, though, that he believes hospitals and health care industries will face financial hardships wherever one goes in the country.

He noted that his predecessor, Letson, has already done much of the legwork in establishing a solid foundation of services in Homer.

“I’m just very thankful and appreciative for the opportunity and look forward to joining the community,” Woodin said.

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