By Robb Murray
---- — ST. PETER — River's Edge Hospital in St. Peter has named its new head administrator.
George Rohrich, who has worked in hospital administration since 1977, will take over Oct. 14 for the retiring Colleen Spike, who had been the hospital's head administrator for 14 years.
The hospital is owned and run by the city of St. Peter. At its City Council meeting Monday, Rohrich's contract was approved. He'll be paid an annual salary of $155,000 and will have 44 days of paid time off (sick, vacation, holiday). His initial contract will run about 26 months.
St. Peter City Administrator Todd Prafke said Rohrich seemed the best fit for the job.
“The commission and council saw him as having wonderful experience in critical access hospitals and quality leadership skills,” Prafke said. “His experience in working with hospitals that were of similar size, and his ability to help the hospital develop a clear vision for future was very impressive.”
Rohrich spent six years as the CEO of The Memorial Hospital at Craig in Craig, Colo., where he oversaw construction of the facility. He helped recruit numerous physicians to Craig to work there.
Before Craig, he served as CEO at Washakie Medical Center in Worland, Wyo., and four years as the administrator of the Pembina County Memorial Hospital in Cavalier, N.D. He also spent 15 years in medical administration for the U.S. Air Force in hospitals across the country.
He is married and has two grown children. Rohrich earned a degree in management and humanservices from Park University in Missouri.
When Rohrich left the facility in Craig, he did so by means of an abrupt resignation. Little was made public about the reasons for his departure, but an article published in the Craig Daily Press suggests Rohrich may have left on bad terms with the hospital administration.
According the report, the hospital board held three private personnel meetings. After the final one, the human resources director was told to arrange a meeting with Rohrich. Within 24 hours, Rohrich resigned.
Jackie Kimmet, human resources director for River's Edge, said the hospital commission knew about the kerfuffle in Craig, but she declined to discuss it.
"I don't feel comfortable doing that," Kimmet said.
Rohrich follows Spike, who had been with River's Edge for 15 years, a time span that goes back to when it was known as St. Peter Community Hospital. Spike, whose retirement was effective at the end of June, was embroiled in controversy during the past year after she accused Mayo Clinic Health System, which operates a clinic in St. Peter, of purposely funneling patients away from River's Edge and to their hospital in Mankato. Mayo denies that allegation.
River's Edge, meanwhile, looks to be a challenge for the new guy. Prafke several months ago told The Free Press said that the hospital is operating at a deficit of about $1 million, although Spike put that figure at closer to $1.6 million. Although Prafke said the hospital's financial status can change from year to year.