New Forks hospital CEO focuses on red ink

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — New Forks Community Hospital CEO Bill McMillan is settling in as the head of this town’s largest employer — and is working to turn its finances around.

The three-member hospital commission named the Cleveland native the institution’s new head in November.

“His skill sets and leadership style are the exact fit with our organization and leadership team,” board member Gerry Lane said in a statement from the hospital district’s health care industry consulting firm, B.E. Smith Inc. of Lenexa, Kan.

Under his three-year contract, McMillan will make $176,010 annually to run the 20-bed facility, head a staff of 195 employees and oversee a 2013 operating budget of $23.2 million.

He succeeds Camille Scott, who retired.

The hospital district ended 2012 with a net operating loss of $977,000, McMillan said.

“This is a financially challenged organization,” he said.

“The first step is to turn the frown upside-down, if you will.

“That level of loss is not sustainable.”

In the short time he’s been in Forks, McMillan said, he’s discovered that more hospital expenses can be included in the cost-based reimbursement system under which the critical-access facility operates.

He added that he also hopes to recruit more physicians so that more West End residents are inclined to go to Forks Community Hospital for their health care needs rather than points east, such as in Port Angeles.

“I recognize in a small community like Forks, if we launched into the number of layoffs that would change that bottom line, it would be pretty tough for the community,” he said.

“You’d be looking at 20 people, depending on the level of pay.”

McMillan, 60, is renting a house in Forks with his wife, Heather, 44, and their rescue dogs, Otis, a 4-year-old Great Dane, and Salty, a 6-year-old greyhound and former track dog.

Heather McMillan, a public health educator whose parents live in Centralia, plans to obtain a master’s degree in public health administration and expects to participate in Peninsula College’s distance learning program in Forks.

The couple arrived in 3,500-population Forks from 2,200-population Gold Beach, Ore., where McMillan was the former CEO for the Curry Health District, which runs a hospital, three clinics and an assisted living facility.

He resigned in August.

“The board changed. I had a conflict with a board member, and I moved on,” he said.

McMillan, a scuba-diving enthusiast, has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in business administration.

He has worked in community mental health, was a health care consultant and worked in the U.S. Territory of Guam as managing partner of a company that owned a surgery center.

“I ended up there because of scuba diving,” said McMillan, who also owned Thunder Reef Divers in Vancouver, Wash., “along with doing health care.”

McMillan and his wife enjoy taking their dogs for walks, seeing movies in Port Angeles every other week or so — “Zero Dark Thirty” was their latest movie date — and traveling to Seattle.

“We are enjoying getting to Seattle relatively quickly,” McMillan added.

“If you live in Gold Beach, it’s six hours to Portland [Ore.], so it’s all relative.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 26. 2013 5:32PM
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