Wearing one hat, at two hospitals
Two Green Bay Catholic hospitals to share one CEO
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
GREEN BAY -- Hospital staff and community leaders gathered last Tuesday near the statue of St. Francis outside St. Vincent Hospital for the announcement of Jim Coller as chief executive officer of both St. Vincent and St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center.
St. Vincent had been without a permanent CEO since Joe Neidenbach retired last March. Coller was serving as administrator at St. Mary's.
"Jim Coller has done an outstanding job at St. Mary's and, as we contemplated the future direction of St. Vincent, it quickly became apparent that he is also the right person at the right time to lead both ministries," said Stephanie S. McCutcheon, president and chief executive officer of the Hospital Sisters Health System, in a press release. "Jim is an excellent administrator who lives the values of the Hospital Sisters, knows Green Bay well and fully understands all of the health care challenges and opportunities in the community."
"It's both exciting and challenging," said Coller of his new position. "I see it as a bridge building job. I look forward to collaboration between the two hospitals, but there will be two different hospitals. Our Sisters' mission is two community hospitals."
Collaborative efforts will also extend to St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan, also sponsored by the Hospital Sisters Health System. In the past, St. Nicholas has had strong ties with Milwaukee medical centers, said Coller, but he would like to strengthen its relationship with St. Mary's and St. Vincent.
Coller has served more than 30 years in Catholic health care administration, including more than 24 years at St. Mary's. Prior to Green Bay, he served as chief operating officer at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh.
He named Tom Bayer as chief operating officer for St. Vincent Hospital and Larry Connors as chief operating officer for St. Mary's. Both assumed their duties immediately.
Bayer had been an assistant administrator at St. Vincent since 1988; Connors has served in a similar position at St. Mary's since 1993.
"I've spent more time at St. Vincent over the past week, because I'm obviously more familiar with St. Mary's," said Coller. "I was surprised with how many people knew me. I saw a number of staff members who once worked at St. Mary's. I believe it's important to be available and that the staffs at both hospitals know who I am. I really see my role as one of servant leadership. The things that I do and the things that Larry and Tom do are designed to help the everyday heroes, working in our hospitals, to serve people."
As he settles into his positions, Coller said he expects to spend more time outside the hospitals.
"This will free me up to do more regional things," he said. "We've got some physical issues to address. There will be some strategic planning."
Coordinating the leadership teams and building relationships is essential to secure the future of Catholic health care in Green Bay, he added. "There is a competitive thrust in health care in this area. We need to make sure we don't lose any ground while continuing to carry out our mission."