Local Avera chief announces retirement; national search begins for replacementThe president and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace Health Services will soon retire, he announced Monday.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The president and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace Health Services will soon retire, he announced Monday.
Tom Rasmusson made the announcement to the Avera Queen of Peace Board of Directors and employees. It is effective June 30, according to Roger Musick, board chairman.
“It’s about that time,” Rasmusson said Monday afternoon in an interview with The Daily Republic. “I’ve been in this business, I figured the other day, for 38 years.”
He first revealed his retirement plans publicly in an interview with The Daily Republic last summer, when he said he was close to announcing his intentions. Rasmusson said he made the final decision this fall.
He will turn 66 in June, and he and his wife, Ann, plan to move to a lake home in Battle Lake, Minn., that they are having built.
Meanwhile, Avera Queen of Peace is looking for a new leader.
“Avera will conduct a national search, and it is our goal to have Tom’s replacement in place for at least 30 days prior to his retirement,” Musick said in a news release.
Other Avera officials also were quoted in the release. Fred Slunecka, chief operating officer of Avera, said the company will seek a strong replacement for Rasmusson.
“In replacing a regional president for one of our regional hospitals, a national search is essential in order to ensure that we select the best and most qualified candidate for the position.
“The president and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace Hospital is responsible not only for the operation of the hospital and Avera Brady Health and Rehab, he/she will also be responsible for the four hospitals in our region: Avera De Smet Memorial Hospital, Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital in Wessington Springs, Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston, and Platte Health Center Avera, and will also provide leadership for the clinics and nursing homes throughout the Mitchell region.”
The final candidates will be interviewed by the Avera Queen of Peace Health Services Board of Directors, Avera Queen of Peace senior staff and representatives from the medical staff, according to Slunecka.
Rasmusson became president and CEO of Avera Queen of Peace on July 7, 2003. He had served as vice president of professional services at Rapid City Regional from 1995 until he accepted the position with Avera.
Prior to that, he served as chief operating officer at Dakota Hospital in Fargo, N.D., and assistant administrator at St. Francis Hospital in Breckenridge, Minn.
Rasmusson said he doesn’t plan to look for another job but may do some work for Avera in the future.
“Not at this time,” he said. “I may do some interim work for the Avera system.”
He said there are accomplishments he can point to with pride when he departs from Mitchell.
“I guess the addition of the 2006 building with maternal care and same-day services,” Rasmusson said.
He said he is also proud of the long-range planning he engaged in for the hospital and other Avera entities he supervised. But he also admitted some disappointments.
“I still would have liked to have done an outpatient pavilion, but due to the economy and other reasons, it didn’t happen,” Rasmusson said. “That really is our No. 1 priority.”
He was very active in the community and said he had hoped the proposed wellness center was closer to becoming a reality in Mitchell. The hospital and Dakota Wesleyan University are teaming with the city in an effort to build the facility, which would be located on the college campus.
“I wish we’d be a little bit further along with this than we are,” Rasmusson said.
Avera Health President John Porter said Rasmusson made a difference.
“Tom joined Avera Queen of Peace and Avera with an excellent background in health care administration, with special expertise in joint venturing, strategic planning, and quality care initiatives,” Porter said in the news release. “Under his tenure, Avera Queen of Peace underwent a $6 million building and remodeling project in 2006 and expanded cancer services, including the addition of Brachytherapy in 2009.
“In addition, Tom has worked collaboratively with Avera on numerous projects including a number of e-initiatives.”
Musick noted Rasmusson was also heavily involved in the community.
“While Tom’s experience in health care and his leadership skills have been invaluable to Avera Queen of Peace, I would be remiss if I did not mention his generous donation of time and talent to our community and his church,” he said.
“Tom serves on the Dakota Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, is a member of the Mitchell Development Corporation and Rotary, and is on the LifeServe Blood Services, United Way, and Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce Boards,” Musick said. “Tom also serves on the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations Board of Trustees.
“Incidentally, Tom introduced the United Way Day of Caring project to Mitchell and has chaired that innovative and popular project for the past three years. Tom served on the church council at First Lutheran and was president of the council during their renovation and construction project.
“Both Tom and his wife, Ann, have been strong community and church volunteers, and they will certainly be missed by a number of agencies and organizations as well as the hospital board and staff.”
Rasmusson is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, is on the South Dakota Chapter ACHE Board of Directors and has served on the Council of Regents and the Regents Advisory Council. He received the ACHE Service Award in 2008.
Rasmusson served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969.