Whidbey General Hospital’s new CEO will assume her duties April 20.
Geri Forbes, currently an employee of Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Florida, will replace Tom Tomasino who has served as Whidbey General’s chief for five years.
“I look forward to helping lead the team at Whidbey General Hospital and Clinics, and wish to express my appreciation to the hospital board, physicians, staff and community for entrusting me with the role of CEO,” said Forbes in a statement emailed by the hospital. “My family and I are excited to relocate to Coupeville as I assume my new role on April 20.”
Whidbey General Hospital District board members adopted a resolution finalizing Forbes’ hire during this month’s regular meeting.
“Ongoing support from both patients and patrons of the hospital will certainly be appreciated as we address the challenges facing us in a dynamic healthcare environment,” said Forbes. “Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to be a member of the Whidbey Island community.”
President Anne Tarrant defended the board’s decision to pay Forbes a base of $279,000 per year with an additional $70,000 in annual bonuses, if board objectives are met.
Tomasino earned $261,000 in salary and benefits last year.
“When we chose the salary we looked at all the metrics,” Tarrant said. “I think that what we decided is appropriate.”
Last month, the South Whidbey Record reported that the average base salary for lead executives in critical access hospitals in the state is $169,638 according to most recent reports, and the average for the five Critical Access hospitals in Island and surrounding counties was $202,919.
Whidbey General should be compared to other larger critical access systems or hospital districts because of the quantity and breadth of the services offered by the public hospital, Tarrant said.
Additionally, she said, “a number” of hospital staff met with the three candidates, and the board decided that, after speaking with them “at length,” that Forbes was the best choice, Tarrant said.
Tarrant said that she and hospital district board member Ron Wallin “highly recommended” Forbes for the position.
Tomasino, whose role as CEO ends on April 20, originally submitted his resignation for October.
The board expressed its intention to retain Tomasino as a paid consultant to help with the leadership transition.
“It’s been a process,” said Tarrant, during the meeting. “I know it’s been kind of awkward.”
“A little bit,” Tomasino agreed.
Starting in 2001 as information systems director, Tomasino worked his way up the ranks to the chief operating office position. He served as interim CEO several months prior to assuming the role permanently in July 2009 when all the other candidates withdrew or were eliminated by the board.
“After 15 years in WGH administration, I have learned that indeed, change is the only constant,” Tomasino said in an emailed statement.
“The evolving health care climate requires everyone — from individual providers to the largest hospital system — to adapt if they are to survive. Healthcare is an easy business to attack, but providing quality care is not easy by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
“As I prepare to depart next month as Whidbey General Hospital CEO, I wish to thank the staff, medical providers and volunteers of our healthcare system for their dedication to our island community.”