Top execs depart Kalispell Regional

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Kalispell Regional Healthcare is undergoing a transition in its leadership team as three top executives, the director of its digestive health institute and a contingent of its internal design team have either departed or announced plans to retire.

In recent weeks, three prominent members of the Kalispell Regional executive leadership team have either resigned or announced their retirement. Charles Pearce, the health-care system’s chief financial officer since 2000, recently resigned to spend more time with his family, according to Mellody Sharpton, Kalispell Regional’s director of communications. Tracey Talley will serve as the interim chief financial and information officer until a permanent replacement is found.

In late March, Karen Lee, the hospital’s longtime chief nursing officer, announced her retirement, effective on Dec. 31 of this year. And Ted Hirsch, the senior executive director of Kalispell Regional Medical Center since 1999, is no longer with the organization, said Sharpton, though she could not comment specifically on his departure.

Additionally, Dr. Nicholas Costrini, the former program director of the Digestive Health Institute — who was recruited from Georgia to oversee the design and direction of the state-of-the-art facility currently under construction at 320 Sunnyview Lane — has left the position for undisclosed reasons. Dr. Philip E. Jaffe is now serving as medical director of the institute. Construction began on the new $12.9 million facility in June of last year and is expected to be completed by this fall.

The leadership changes come at a pivotal time for Kalispell Regional as the organization anticipates the impending completion of major projects — the Digestive Health Institute, for one, as well as the $40 million pediatric center slated for next spring — and adjusts to expanded services.

Part of this adjustment is a reassessment and realignment of resources, said Sharpton. She confirmed reports that there had been recent turnover on the hospital’s internal design staff, but declined to comment on specific hiring matters.

Designers employed by Kalispell Regional work on numerous architectural and design projects on the hospital’s campus. She said the designers in questions were not, however, associated with the construction of the Montana Children’s Medical Center.

That project — a massive undertaking poised to make Kalispell Regional a destination health-care center for children — is still overseen by HKS Inc., the Dallas-based architecture firm contracted by Kalispell Regional to design the new building on the east side of the hospital’s campus. In a call with the Daily Inter Lake, Mo Stein, of HKS’ Phoenix office, confirmed the company is still “all there” with the project.

While she could not comment on any specific hiring or human resources changes, Sharpton said design-staff turnover would be standard for a growing organization to “realign departments and assure that we have the right resources in place and ... that we use those resources effectively.” She described the timing of numerous personnel changes at once as “coincidental.”

As the hospital steers along what Sharpton called its “growth trajectory,” changes in staff are par for the course, she said. Regardless of personnel and design changes, she said Kalispell Regional is committed to achieving “long-term sustainability as an independent health-care system.”

Reporter Adrian Horton can be reached at 758-4439 or at ahorton@dailyinterlake.com.

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