Dan Bonk, who currently heads a 74-bed hospital outside of Milwaukee, Wis., is the Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors’ choice to be the next chief executive officer here.
The five AVH board members voted by secret ballot during their regular meeting on Monday. Bonk was the unanimous choice.
Bonk was one of two finalists for the position that was vacated in May by outgoing CEO David Ressler, who took a job at a hospital in Tucson, Ariz. The other was Pete Hofstetter, the head of the 29-bed Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, N.M. The Aspen hospital, assisted by head hunting firm Witt/Kieffer and a search committee made up of AVH officials and community members, received a total of around 40 applications for the position.
Bonk is expected to enter into contract negotiations with the AVH board in the next week. The CEO job had a listed salary range of $313,000 to $467,000. AVH spokesman Ginny Dyche said the hospital’s “philosophy” is to pay its chief executive a salary near the 50th percentile of hospital CEOs, according to a nationwide survey, which would put the pay around $361,000, she wrote in an email.
Board member Dr. Barry Mink praised both finalists and said the decision was a close call. But Bonk came out on top of the unanimous vote after making “very favorable impressions” with AVH medical and administrative staff, the search committee and the community, Mink said.
Bonk has 30 years of working in hospitals under his belt, and has been with Aurora Health Care, which runs the newly opened Summit hospital in Wisconsin, since 2003. Aurora, a nonprofit, runs 15 hospitals in the Milwaukee area, as well as throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Bonk also has worked at hospitals in Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Arizona.
At a public interview with the AVH board two weeks ago, Bonk said he likes to focus on promoting overall population wellness. He also 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 told the board.
Hofstetter faced tough questions from the board about the financial state of his Taos hospital, which in the midst of the search process announced layoffs for 44 employees. The cuts were necessary because of a $15 million cut in the amount of government funding received by the hospital over the last few years, he said.
Pressing issues at AVH include the need to raise $60 million to fund the final phases of an expansion, as well as reworking some of the contracts the hospital has with doctors and other employees.