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Riverwood chief executive to retire in 2013
It has been nearly 12 years since Michael Hagen took the helm of Riverwood Healthcare. Late in 2012, the CEO announced plans to step down in mid-2013.
Hagen will turn 66 in June and said he wants to spend more time with his family. “It’s time to move on, to enjoy the golden years with my wife, grandchildren and family and do a few other things while I am still healthy.”
Still, the decision to step down didn’t come without hesitation.
“This was not an easy decision to make because I care so deeply about Riverwood and all its constituents—patients, employees, volunteers, health care practitioners, donors and board members,” said Hagen in a written statement. “My whole career has been devoted to working on health-related issues so I will certainly miss being actively engaged in the decision-making to keep our local health system strong and responsive to the needs of this community and its residents.”
He will leave the Aitkin healthcare organization with much improved facilities.
Hagen took on the role of Riverwood’s chief executive in February 2001 and immediately applied his expertise in healthcare construction. He oversaw the transition to an integrated 24-bed hospital and clinic in 2003. Several years later he coordinated major expansions for the specialty clinic in Aitkin and for the McGregor clinic, both of which were completed in 2006. He then worked closely with Garrison community members to build and open a new clinic and pharmacy in Garrison in 2007.
In 2009, the Aitkin healthcare facility opened a newly expanded radiology department to accommodate a permanent MRI suite. Now the hospital is well on its way to completion of a $21 million expansion and renovation project that is transforming the patient experience at Riverwood with new single occupancy patient rooms as well as other enhancements to inpatient and outpatient care. This latest renovation is scheduled for a May 2013 completion.
The healthcare organization has not only grown facilities but also its numbers under Hagen’s leadership.
Expansions generated 44 full time positions (316 employees in 2001, 360 employees in 2012) during his tenure. Operating revenue also grew by 136 percent ($19 million in 2001, $45 million in 2012). Physicians and specialists grew from about 40 to more than 60.
Hagen earned a bachelor’s degree from Moorhead State University, a master’s from Mankato State University, and a doctorate in education from Utah State University. During his career, he served as the director of the Montana Center for Handicapped Children, Eastern Montana College, and as administrative director of rehabilitation at Saint Vincent Hospital and Health Center - both in Billings, Mont.; administrator at HealthSouth Rehabilitation at Baptist Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn.; and was chief executive officer of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Beaumont, Tex., just before coming to Aitkin.
Partnerships have been a key strategy for Hagen. While at Riverwood, he has forged relationships with Cuyuna Regional Medical Center to form the Cuyuna-Riverwood Breast Health Alliance and Minnesota Center for Orthopaedics; Minneapolis Heart Institute for cardiology care; Virginia Piper Cancer Institute for oncology services; Regional Diagnostic Radiology for imaging services; Adult and Pediatric Urology for urology care; and SISU Medical Solutions for information technology services. In addition, Hagen helped to form relationships between Riverwood and the Greater Minnesota Self Insurance Fund, the Rural Healthcare Alliance, and the Minnesota Wilderness Coalition.
The Chandler Group Executive Search firm will lead the chief executive search. Working with the firm will be the hospital’s internal search committee made up of five members of the governing board along with the director of human resources.
Hagen will serve within this committee as an ad-hoc member with consultant capacity. But he has no intention of exerting much intervention into the process. “I don’t want the board to hire another me. I want to be advisory, review who the candidates are going to be and interview them as they come in. But the pool of candidates is going to be left up to the search committee,” he said.
Following retirement in June, he will work with the new CEO for a minimum 30-day transition period. While his schedule is flexible, he is confident that the committee has adequate time to find a successor that is able to move to Aitkin and start working by the given date. If, however, no candidate has been selected, Hagen will continue to serve in his current capacity until a new CEO is found.
And even after his retirement, Hagen won’t leave the healthcare field completely. He’s considering contract work, consulting as well as volunteer work. Some of that consulting work may fall into categories that he defined as rural healthcare’s most pressing issues:
• understanding healthcare reform and its impact on all healthcare organizations,
• the continued concerns about reimbursement for rural healthcare and
• the recruitment of primary care physicians and qualified individuals into the healthcare arena and into rural areas specifically.
“We need to work with the state and federal legislature to make sure they continue to support rural healthcare in the future. I look at the big picture out there and I think there are going to be some organizations that aren’t going to be able to survive with the healthcare reform because of the changes in reimbursement. Some organizations won’t be able to recruit and retain qualified staff. It’s going to get a lot tougher, and there is going to be more consolidation of organizations like we’ve seen to date.”
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