Executive from Wisconsin to lead Ashland hospital

Sheila Clough, from Howard Young Health Care, will become the new CEO at ACH

Wisconsin-based health care executive Sheila Clough will become Ashland Community Hospital's new chief executive officer on Sept. 4, Asante announced Tuesday.

Clough will take the helm of Ashland's 49-bed hospital following the completion of its transition into the Asante fold, which is scheduled to wrap up sometime in August, said Asante spokesman Grant Walker.

Clough is president and chief operating officer for Howard Young Health Care in Woodruff, Wis., a position she has held since 2005. She oversaw a 99-bed acute care hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital and a 51-unit assisted-living center In her 15-year career at Howard Young, Clough also served as assistant vice president of ancillary services, director of laboratory and pharmaceutical services and director of laboratory services, according to an Asante press release issued Tuesday.

Clough was singled out by a search committee that included Ashland community members and Asante representatives, Walker said. She was one of four finalists invited to Southern Oregon for a first round of interviews and one of two candidates invited back for final interviews, said Janet Troy, Ashland Community Hospital Foundation director of development.

"It was a very extensive process ... it allowed for a lot of different people to provide their input," Troy said.

Troy was a part of the panel that interviewed the final two candidates, she said.

"I think she (Clough) can really help us move from being an independent hospital to one that's a part of a system, but also keep the needs of our community in focus," Troy said. "Financial recovery ... is an issue for us. She has experience in turning around a hospital facing similar challenges, which I think is important."

From now until Clough's arrival, Walker said, Asante will work on signing on ACH employees and completing the transaction surrounding its agreement to take over the hospital. With about 400 employees, the hospital is one of Ashland's largest employers and it pays the highest average wage, according to ACH officials. Asante also operates Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford and Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass.

"I am excited about moving to Ashland and look forward to helping provide the community with exceptional health care both now and into the future," Clough said in the news release.

Walker said no one from Asante was available for comment Tuesday. Asante President and CEO Roy Vineyard said in the release, "the search committee was struck by Sheila's instinctual grasp of Ashland Community Hospital's culture and the challenges it faces."

Vineyard was a member of the search committee, Walker said, but he wasn't certain who else sat on the committee.

Troy said Sandra Slattery, Ashland Community Hospital Foundation president and Ashland Chamber of Commerce executive director, was on the search committee.

Asante hired national executive search firm Witt/Kieffer in March to begin identifying potential candidates to fulfill the role of CEO at its Ashland hospital, Troy said.

The final two candidates met with Asante and ACH staff members of all levels before a final decision was made by the search committee, Troy said.

"One of the things that really impressed me about her was that she has operated smaller hospitals as part of a larger hospital system successfully," Troy said. "She was also very interested in being a part of the Ashland community."

Clough has a master's degree in business administration for health care executives from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wis., and a bachelor of science in medical technology from the University of Minnesota, the news release said. She is also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Faced with a dire financial future, Ashland Community Hospital entered into a management agreement with Asante on March 11. Asante chief administrative and finance officer of 13 years, Marvin Haas, has been serving as interim CEO of the hospital since then and will continue in that role until Clough's arrival, Walker said.

A definitive agreement has been approved by all parties involved in the merger: the Ashland City Council, the ACH board, the ACH Foundation board and the Asante Board.

Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.


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