MCHS CEO announces retirement

Medical Center Health System President and CEO Rick Napper will retire effective Sept. 15, a news release from the MCHS Foundation Wednesday stated.
Napper released the following statement to MCHS: “I want to take this opportunity to thank MCHS and the Board of Trustees for allowing me to lead this organization since Dec. 17, 2017. I have made the decision to retire effective Sept. 15, 2019. After considering ongoing challenges of healthcare and concern for the impact that it may have on my health, I have made this very difficult decision. I am very proud of MCHS and wish you all the best as your journey in healthcare continues.”
The announcement comes on the heels of rumors that he would retire after his Odessa house was placed on the market last week. Former District 6 board member Mary Thompson said Saturday after losing the election for her seat that he would be retiring, before backtracking and saying she meant he would be retiring eventually. Thompson’s last meeting was Tuesday. She did not return a phone call to the Odessa American Wednesday.
Her opponent Wallace Dunn, who will be sworn in May 14, said Wednesday he had personally talked to Napper prior to the announcement and had been expecting the announcement, but just didn’t know when.
“It’s disappointing for me, I really believe he’s got the hospital going the right direction, so I was really looking forward to working with him,” Wallace Dunn said. “We’ll just have to make the most of the months we have with him.”
That seemed to be the general consensus from all the Ector County Hospital District board members.
District 4’s David Dunn said he tried talking Napper out of retiring because “he does such a great job at the hospital,” adding he was disappointed with the announcement.
David Dunn said he thinks Napper is a very good CEO, but he understands and respects his reasons for retiring. David Dunn said he didn’t know what kind of health problems Napper was facing, but said Napper had already contacted the search firm that brought him to the board so the process of hiring a new CEO will begin soon.
District 5’s Don Hallmark said the search firm the board hired back in August 2017 to find a new CEO, gave the board a two-year guarantee. Since Napper hasn’t been with MCHS for two years, Hallmark said the same search firm, Southerland Partners, will help them find Napper’s replacement.
Hallmark said since the company already knows the hospital’s needs and other general information, that will help with finding a CEO in a timely manner.
“We’re gonna jump right on it and make every effort to make sure the hospital’s taken care of and continue to have the best care available and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Hallmark said Napper has the health system turned in the right direction and he wished Napper would continue with them, but it is important for Napper to do what he feels like is essential for him.
Hallmark said he was unsure about Napper’s contract and whether or not he would face any kind of penalty for not being with the hospital for a certain period of time, but said they are thankful he’s done a great job and wouldn’t want to penalize anyone for that.
District 1’s Bryn Dodd said she requested Napper’s employment contract last week, but had not been provided any documents as of Wednesday. She said she believes Napper is waiting until September to retire in order to give the board time to hire his replacement.
Dodd said Napper has contributed a lot to Medical Center in the time he has been there and if he feels like this is what he needs to do to take care of himself and his family, she supports that.
“I’m not shocked (about the announcement) and everything that’s been going on lately has been very stressful, I think, for everybody within the health care system,” she said.
The stressful situation Dodd was referring to was in relation to a discussion the board had during a recent special meeting where the board met in executive session for a majority of the time. Dodd said they were discussing personnel issues related to possible litigation and lawsuits, but that she could not say anything else regarding that discussion.
Hallmark previously told the OA after the special meeting the board talked about “all the rumors that are out there,” adding that there was “no truth to any of them.”
District 3’s Richard Herrera said he believes all the rumors that have been circulating have played a part Napper’s decision to retire.
“I think it has with the way things have been going,” Herrera said, adding that while as board members, they are above Napper’s level, they should not infringe on the level below him.
“We have a couple of board members that want to do that,” Herrera said, adding that he was not going to name any names. “That’s not our place. Whatever is going on in personnel, that’s his job. I think we have board members that want to be a part of that, but that’s not our place.”
Herrera said the board is only there for the finances and the well-being of the hospital, not the personnel matters. And while as a group, they can discuss that with him, Napper is getting paid to handle those issues, not the board.
“That’s why we don’t get paid,” he said.
Herrera also said he hates to lose Napper because he is a wonderful guy, but it is good he is taking care of himself.
District 2’s Mary Lou Anderson and District 7’s Ben Quiroz did not return phone calls to the OA Wednesday, but Quiroz did post on the MCHS District 7 Facebook page, “I want to personally thank Rick for his leadership. He is one of the finest men I have had the pleasure to work with. Buena suerte senor!”
Napper’s appointment was approved unanimously by the board in November 2017 and he began working for MCHS in December, just prior to former CEO Bill Webster’s retirement in January 2018.
Napper came to MCHS from St. Joseph Health System in Bryan, Texas where he was president and CEO. His prior healthcare experience included serving Memorial Healthcare System in Chattanooga, Tenn. as executive vice president and chief operating officer. He also served as president and CEO of Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth, Miss., CEO of Norton Community Hospital in Norton, Va. and CEO of Crittenden Health Systems in Marion, Ky.