• November 13, 2019

Retired MCH administrator dies at 76 - Odessa American: Ector County Hospital District

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Retired MCH administrator dies at 76

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Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 4:43 pm

Stephans served as the administrator for Medical Center Hospital for 12 years and continued to champion for his former employees well after his retirement in 2000.

On Thursday, Stephens died at the age of 76 at his home in Odessa. Meisell said during a phone interview that Stephans had been diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer in September.

“I’m saddened but I’m thankful that I got to know a man like Michael Stephans,” said Meisell, who worked as the director of human resources at the hospital from 1991 until Stephans retired in 2000.

Meisell, who was an MCH board member when Stephans became the hospital’s administrator, said it was apparent from the beginning that Stephans was the man for the job.

In the three years prior to Stephans taking over the job at MCH, the hospital had lost more $10 million. That quickly changed as Stephans received the 1992 Comeback of the Year National Award from a leading healthcare magazine.

Stephans and Meisell also banded together as a group of hospital retirees sued over benefits.

“In the fall of 1988, Medical Center Hospital was in crisis,” Meisell said. “We were literally $3 million overdrawn at the bank. It was a very difficult situation. He came in and brought stability to the organization. He was a real good people man and a real good finance man. We needed both of those talents. He won people’s support and he led the hospital from a very difficult situation to a very successful organization.”

Not only did Stephans handle the hospital’s fiscal responsibilities but he also took an interest getting to know every employee.

Renee Earls, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, worked with Stephans for seven years as the hospital’s director of community relations from 1993 to 2000.

“His main focus was the employees,” Earls said about Stephans. “He knew if the employees weren’t happy. They weren’t going to provide quality care to the patients. It wasn’t unusual to see him making rounds in all of the departments. He knew everyone’s first name. He joked with them. He laughed with them. He made sure they had what they needed as employees.”

Meisell said one of the practices he learned from Stephans was the ability to persevere despite tough conditions. Meisell and Earls considered Stephans not only a colleague, but a friend.

“He encouraged us to do better, work to our potential and not be afraid of the challenge,” Meisell said. “He took on the challenge of Medical Center Hospital in 1988. He took on the challenge to fight on behalf of retirees in 2016. He wasn’t afraid of taking on the difficult challenge. He taught us to make it better one day at a time.”

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