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Naked City

Hospital Board Weighs Candidates

By Amy Smith, February 4, 2005, News

The Travis Co. Hospital District board could decide this week to extend a job offer to one of four candidates vying for the chief administrator's post. But board Chair Clarke Heidrick said it could be another week or two before the nine-member board makes a decision. "I think it's very important that we try to get a consensus among the board members, so we're taking our time," Heidrick said. The board met Wednesday and will meet tonight (Thursday) for more discussion and possible action on the administrator's position. The four candidates were introduced to local politicos and other officials at a reception last Friday. The board interviewed them the following day.

The hopefuls include Trish Young, CEO of the city of Austin's Community Care Services Department; Norman Andrews, a nurse, consultant, and former CEO of a healthcare district in Lancaster, Calif.; Robert Prehn, a Mandeville, La.-based consultant and former hospital CEO; and David Small, of Meriden, Conn., a consultant and former CEO of a medical center in Salinas, Calif. The three male candidates either resigned or were fired from their CEO jobs, but Heidrick said there were extenuating circumstances involved in each case. Prehn, for example, resigned after the hospital he worked for was acquired by another firm, Heidrick said.

Young is considered a strong contender for the job given her experience running the city-county health clinic system now under the hospital district's purview. But her city connections could work against her, considering the long-standing political animosity between the city and the county. The most recent dustup between them concerned the hospital district itself, with some county officials accusing the city of withholding key funding that had been earmarked for health care. In this particular hiring case, though, the district board will be able to make its selection independently, without approval from either of the dueling entities.

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