Candidates for the Aspen Valley Hospital chief executive officer position come from two different types of hospitals.
Dan Bonk runs a medium-sized facility that is part of a 15-hospital network serving the greater Milwaukee area and other parts of Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Peter Hofstetter heads up a small hospital in Taos, N.M., similar in size to AVH, and has worked in small facilities most of his career.
Both told the AVH board they would love to be the hospital’s next CEO during a public interview at a Monday night meeting.
Both candidates were asked how they saw the health care field changing with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Both said the health care business model — particularly in how professionals are paid — is shifting.
Bonk said he sees the hospital industry moving from a focus on procedures to “population management.” The doctor-hospital relationship is one that will have to grow closer under health care reform, he said.
Throughout his career, Bonk said he has had a passion for promoting wellness, and he would be excited to bring that focus to AVH.
Hofstetter brought his perspective from working in a hospital that recently announced 44 layoffs, due to a $15 million decrease in the amount of government funding.
“I think the business of medicine is really horrible,” he said, referencing the inability of most doctor’s practices to make money. He also described the doctor-hospital relationship as one that can be difficult, particularly when physicians become hospital employees and not independent contractors.
He also said he fears that the final rules have not been written in terms of health care reform, a situation he described as “really scary.”
To get out of the hole the Taos hospital finds itself in, Hofstetter rolled off a number of new initiatives and strategies for the AVH board.
One overarching goal is to cut down on the amount of “out migration,” he said, citing a statistic that shows 60 percent of consumer spending by Taos County residents happens outside the county, mostly in the Santa Fe area.
Getting more of those people to take advantage of local medical services would be key, he said.
Hofstetter said there also are increasing efforts to bolster oncology, mental health, physical therapy, occupational health and other services at the hospital.
Bonk took questions on how he would transition from being a smaller part of a larger hospital system to AVH, which is an independent hospital that answers to an elected board of directors. He said he would look forward to working within the smaller organization.
In his current role, Bonk described himself as someone concerned with executing the good ideas of others around him.
“I’m not the guy who sits in my office dreaming up strategy,” he said.
Both men said they would be excited to relocate to Aspen and be a part of a community that already takes health — at least in terms of physical recreation — seriously.
On the personal front, Hofstetter said he is an early riser who likes to get to work around 6:15 a.m., so he can connect with employees on the night shift.
Bonk described himself as “transparent to a fault,” and said he tries to generate trust quickly among hospital staff.
At the conclusion of the session — both candidates took questions from the board for about 50 minutes — the board went into executive session to discuss what they heard.
At the Oct. 14 meeting the board is expected to announced its selection. Members encouraged the public to weigh in in the meantime on the candidates.