Rutland Regional Medical Center CEO Tom Huebner, who has led the hospital since 1997, says he will step down in March to travel and spend more time with family.
Huebner says he and his wife Tricia plan to stay in the area.
"It's time," said Huebner by phone from a conference in Kansas City. "It feels like a good time to step away. The organization is in a good place to turn it over to the next leader."
Huebner, 64, first joined Rutland Regional Medical Center in 1990 as vice president of corporate services after having spent 15 years working in health care in the Boston area. He then became the hospital's president and CEO in 1997.
Under Huebner’s leadership RRMC has won numerous awards, most recently from U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best regional hospitals. Huebner was also recently named as one of six leaders in healthcare systems from throughout the United States and Canada to be inducted into the 2017 Fire Starter Hall of Fame.
“The awards are nice,” said Huebner. “But really what’s been best is the cultural change that’s taken place and having people pulling together.”
Huebner says when he first came to Rutland in 1990, the medical community was quite different.
“When I first came to town it was the wild, wild west where autonomy was one of the most cherished of all values. And that’s really changed,” said Huebner.
“It’s now a very collaborative environment and the key to that has been involving physicians in very real ways in the leadership of the organization and that has made just an enormous difference in everything we do.”
He said staff at the hospital have also pulled together and helped create synergies.
“I like to call it 'the special sauce,'” said Huebner. “It’s really the key to everything else. It’s the thing that makes quality improvement possible and even allows us to be financially strong.”
In addition to his role at the hospital, Huebner currently serves on the board of directors for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and on the board of trustees for Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He's also the New England representative for the American Hospital Association board of trustees.
John Casella, chairman of the hospital's board of directors, will be heading up a national search committee to find a successor with Vice Chairman Mike Solimano.
"We've got really big shoes to fill for sure," said Casella. "Not only is Tom a great leader, but he's highly regarded both in the medical community and throughout the city at large."
"Whenever there was a community issue in Rutland, Tom was there to lend his support, whether with development or in other ways," said Casella. "I'm glad he and Tricia will be staying around, but he'll be missed on a full-time basis for sure."
Casella says he expects to have a successor in place before Huebner’s last day, which will be March 31, 2018.
Disclosure: Rutland Regional Medical Center is a VPR underwriter.