Whidbey General Hospital CEO to hang up hat

Whidbey General Hospital commissioners are putting together a list of criteria to help them find the perfect chief executive officer, according to Commissioner Ron Wallin.

Current CEO Tom Tomasino announced his plans during a board meeting last month to not renew his contract and retire in October of 2015.

“He is announcing this now to give the board ample time to mount a search to find a new CEO,” wrote hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose, in an email. “It is also his hope for there to be a good turnover period to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.”

Tomasino started serving as interim CEO in October of 2008 and was officially chosen as CEO in the summer of 2009.

Wallin said the fact that Tomasino is retiring isn’t a big surprise because the “average stint” for a hospital CEO tends to be five to 10 years before they start to “burn out” from the amount of complex work.

“It’s not a bad thing,” Wallin said. “He’s feeling it’s time for a change for him and the hospital.”

Wallin said the board plans to do a nationwide search for candidates through an agency that specializes in finding executive-level employees.

“The board really appreciates that he gave us a year to find a replacement,” he said. “It means a new CEO can come in and work with Tom before he leaves so we have a really smooth transition.”

The hospital board had some difficulty in finding a CEO in 2009. After a nationwide search, the board named three finalists, but they all dropped out.

Tomasino had applied for the position, but was not initially named as a finalist. In the end, however, the commissioners said he was the best person for the job.

His contract included a base salary of $230,000 in addition to benefits and educational expenses.

Wallin said he suspects that the board will have an easier time finding qualified candidates this time around.

“There are more former CEOs available as so many small hospitals are being absorbed by large ones,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for the hospital with all the CEOs available.”

Tomasino’s tenure as CEO has been very eventful, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

By a supermajority, voters last year approved a $50-million bond proposal to expand Whidbey General Hospital; the bond narrowly failed a couple of years prior, but Tomasino and others returned with a vigorous effort to present the proposal to the community.

In announcing his retirement, Tomasino told the board that the hospital has had “a phenomenal change with employee satisfaction and the community,” according to minutes of the meeting.

There have also been controversies over the year. Most recently, the head nurse was charged by the Island County prosecutor with assaulting a patient, but Tomasino came to her defense and claimed that the allegations were unfounded before the criminal investigation was complete.

Tomasino could not be immediately contacted for comment.