Former Gifford Medical Center exec returns to helm another Vt. hospital

  • Joe Woodin, who was at the time Gifford Hospital's CEO, listens to discussion during a meeting in Randolph Center, Vt., on May 3, 2013. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

VtDigger
Published: 9/4/2019 10:24:26 PM

MORRISVILLE, Vt. — Copley Hospital has appointed Joseph Woodin, who served as the top executive at Gifford Medical Center for 16 years, as its new CEO.

Woodin will take the helm at the Morrisville hospital in mid-October.

Before he served as president and CEO at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph from 1999-2016, he held leadership positions at Central Vermont Medical Center and the University of Vermont Medical Center.

During his time at Gifford, the medical center saw its revenues increase by 600% and major expansions, including the acquisition of new service lines and seven clinical sites, according to a statement released by Copley officials Monday.

“What really set Joe apart from the very beginning, was his impressive history of helping hospitals achieve solid financial performance; his willingness to embrace innovative approaches to the healthcare challenges facing smaller, rural hospitals; and his depth of leadership experience working within Vermont’s unique regulatory environment,” Carl Szlachetka, chair of the Copley Health Systems board of trustees, wrote in a news release Tuesday.

Woodin was most recently CEO at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, from February 2018 to April 2019, when he resigned abruptly citing “unanticipated circumstances,” according to the Homer News.

In June 2017, Woodin was fired suddenly from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in Massachusetts after 13 months as CEO.

At the time, Woodin told The Randolph Herald that he wasn’t given a reason for his dismissal and blamed Martha’s Vineyard “island politics.”

In March 2018, the hospital sued Woodin, alleging he was in default of a $250,000 promissory note he signed with the medical center in January 2017. At the time, the Martha’s Vineyard Times reported that while Woodin was supposed to pay back $50,000 per year, plus interest, the hospital alleged he had paid it nothing.

After speaking with VtDigger Tuesday afternoon, Woodin did not immediately respond to another request for comment about his time in Martha’s Vineyard.

Woodin’s appointment comes as Copley, like many small rural hospitals in Vermont, faces financial struggles that stem from challenges including an aging population and trouble maintaining a medical workforce.

In its proposed 2020 budget submitted to the Green Mountain Care Board this summer, the hospital projects losing $1.2 million by the end of the current fiscal year.

Its proposed budget also includes a nearly 10% rate increase for consumers — the highest of any hospital this year.

Copley attributed much of its losses to an increase in the number of services covered by Medicare, which reimburses hospitals at a lower rate than commercial insurers.

In an interview Tuesday, Woodin declined to discuss his specific plans to address Copley’s financial challenges. But he noted that they’re not unique to the Morrisville hospital and are faced by others in Vermont and around the country.

“What we can control is our organization and how well we perform, and thankfully these challenges are ubiquitous and they’re in front of all rural Vermont hospitals,” Woodin said.

“We’ve just got to stick to the knitting, do a good job, hopefully be at the table with some suggestions,” he said. “But I don’t think that the Vermont health care system is so fragile that it will start to fall apart.”

Woodin said that after spending time in Alaska, he had been looking to move back to Vermont to be closer to family.




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