Southeast Hospital names new CEO

Debra Linnes (Photo source Southeast Missouri Hospital)
Debra Linnes (Photo source Southeast Missouri Hospital)
James P. Limbaugh (Photo source Southeast Missouri Hospital)
James P. Limbaugh (Photo source Southeast Missouri Hospital)

By Christy Hendricks - email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Southeast Missouri Hospital named their new CEO Thursday.
Debra Linnes will replace retiring James Wente as the president and CEO of Southeast Missouri Hospital.
Linnes has spend 30 years in healthcare.  She most recently spent five years in Joplin.  She served as president and CEO of St. John's Regional Medical Center.  Linnes has also served as a Senior VP for a regional health system in Colorado for the Sisters of Charity Leavenworth, (KS), and was a member of the Catholic Healthcare West health system in California.
She holds a BS in Nursing from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and a Master's Degree in Health Administration from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.  She's also a member of American Hospital Association, Missouri Hospital Association and American Organization of Nurse Executives.
Linnes named James P. Limbaugh as the new Executive Vice President of Planning and Business Development. Limbaugh has been the Chief Operating Officer at Montgomery Bank since 2000 and has served on the Hospital Board of Trustees for 15 years.
Limbaugh holds a BS in Business Administration and a Master of Arts Degree in teaching from Southeast Missouri State University.
Linnes and Limbaugh will begin their new positions on September 28th.

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Below is the press release from Southeast Hospital.

A Joplin, MO, healthcare executive today was named new President and CEO of Southeast Missouri Hospital.  Debra (Debbie) Linnes, BSN, MHA, ACHE, was affiliated with St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, where she served most recently as President and Chief Executive Officer. Linnes, as a seasoned healthcare executive, including extensive operation and strategic leadership experience, brings to the position the traits the Southeast Missouri Hospital Board of Trustees was seeking.  Linnes has been selected by the board to replace James Wente, FACHE, CPA, as the organization's eleventh President and Chief Executive Officer.
Linnes said she's looking forward to her new role. "The Hospital's widely recognized reputation as a high performing, quality organization - as validated by its numerous awards, recognitions, and certifications including Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing - is a significant part of what brought me to this opportunity.  I look forward to bringing my extensive healthcare leadership experience to the organization to further advance its mission for making a difference in healthcare for this region."
In addition to her five years in Joplin, Linnes served as a Senior VP for a regional health system in Colorado for the Sisters of Charity Leavenworth, (KS), as well as in a leadership role for a member of the Catholic Healthcare West health system in California. During her nearly 30 years in healthcare, she has held progressively more responsible positions, culminating most recently with her multiple leadership roles in Joplin.
"There's a pulse you can feel when you walk into Southeast Missouri Hospital," Linnes said. "You can sense a true commitment to excellence. I'm passionate about that commitment and will work very hard to ensure it continues and benchmark our performance across the board - in quality, service, and value -  as a leader in delivering the highest quality healthcare to the region."
During a press conference held at the Hospital, Linnes also announced her first appointment and named James P. Limbaugh Executive Vice President of Planning and Business Development. Limbaugh, Chief Operating Officer at Montgomery Bank since 2000, has also served on the Hospital Board of Trustees for 15 years. He currently is serving as Board Chair, but will vacate that seat. First Vice Chairman, A.M. Spradling, III, will step up to the role of Board Chairman.
Linnes said Limbaugh brings "background, experience and a strong community relationship to his new role. His strategic planning experience will be invaluable to the Hospital. He brings a unique perspective and thorough understanding of the complexities of healthcare delivery to this very important position." Limbaugh's duties will include marketing and public relations, business development, strategic and growth planning, Foundation fund development and advocacy on behalf of Southeast.
"Having the opportunity to use skills honed over a career that focused on strategic planning as well as growing organizations and relationships is exciting," Limbaugh said. "It is a privilege and frankly a responsibility to be actively involved in the community and I look forward to continuing that on behalf of our Hospital. I feel invested in both our Hospital and our community."
To be a part of helping facilitate change is "very compelling," he added. "I have also had the good fortune of working both personally and professionally with the majority of the medical professionals within the community. It is an advocacy role that has been very rewarding.  As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, those relationships will be even more critical moving forward."

September 28 Start Date

Both Linnes and Limbaugh will begin their new duties on September 28. Current Southeast President and CEO James W. Wente in June 2008 announced his intentions to retire after a 35-year career at the Hospital. To ensure a seamless transition, Wente will serve as CEO Emeritus through July 31, 2010.
James A.  Rust, Chairman of the CEO search committee and a member of the Board of Trustees, said the 10-month national search facilitated by St. Louis-based Grant Cooper & Associates produced a number of qualified candidates. "The search committee was very committed to doing its best to find the best person to continue the many fine things that have been accomplished at Southeast," he added. "We believe Mrs. Linnes has an outstanding background in healthcare, both as a CEO and registered nurse. She understands the many issues that face today's healthcare providers and pro-actively addresses them. She will guide our leadership team and will work with all Hospital staff, physicians, Trustees, College of Nursing, the Foundation and Auxiliary leadership to take Southeast Missouri Hospital to even higher plateaus."
Rust noted that during interviews with CEO finalists, a number of Southeast employees had the opportunity to meet candidates. "It was very helpful to have a wide range of employees and physicians meet candidates and share feedback about that experience."
The addition of Limbaugh to Southeast's leadership team is a good one, Rust commented. "I have known Jim for years and hold him in high regard for his business skills, his good judgment and the insight he will bring from being a part of the business community and, as a member of the Board of Trustees, the healthcare community as well."
Spradling, who also served on the search committee, said Linnes' demonstrated, progressive leadership style and commitment to providing exceptional healthcare, along with her community involvement, "will be a good fit with Southeast Missouri Hospital, Cape Girardeau and the region. We are fortunate to have someone with Mrs. Linnes' qualifications step into the leadership role at our Hospital. Jim Wente has done an outstanding job as our President and CEO and his work with the current Board of Trustees has positioned Southeast for a strong future. Mrs. Linnes will continue to build on Southeast's first-rate reputation for patient care and lead our Hospital into the future and the many opportunities it holds."

Healthcare Today

Linnes said that as CEO she initially will be spending time talking with key constituents - the community, physicians and employees. "It's important to have input as we frame the future for Southeast going forward.  We know healthcare is changing. There are new challenges on the horizon at the state and national level. There's never been a more exciting time within the healthcare industry. As healthcare leaders, we have the opportunity to help mold some of that future, both within our community and by participating in the national dialogue. This is the time that as leaders we have opportunities to set up integrated care delivery systems that drive best performance - and add value for our community."
During visits to Cape Girardeau, Linnes said she has observed that "Cape Girardeau as a community demonstrates some of the best of what we look for in quality communities - a committed leadership base and a diverse community educationally, culturally and economically.  I believe that Cape Girardeau and my native Minnesota share a similar quality -that of strong Midwestern values. I had a clear sense of that. My husband and I will be committed to be an active part of the community we serve, just as we have always done in the past.  Giving back is very important to us. We are equally excited at the prospect of raising our family in this community."
Linnes holds a BS degree in Nursing from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and a Master's Degree in Health Administration from the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. She is a member of the CEO Circle with the American College of Healthcare Executives. Her memberships include the American Hospital Association, Missouri Hospital Association and American Organization of Nurse Executives. In Joplin, she served as president and vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, and was active in Rotary and other community organizations.  Linnes has received several business awards including the Tri-State Journal Distinguished Women in Business Leadership Award in 2007.
She and her husband, Steve, have three children - Dana, a sophomore at Belmont College in Nashville, TN; Derek, a sophomore in high school; and Drew, a fifth grader.  Steve Linnes is a music educator and is looking forward to pursuing his career in the area.
Limbaugh holds a BS degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts Degree in teaching from Southeast Missouri State University. He also attended the American Bankers Association National Commercial Lending School and the American Bankers Association National Commercial Graduate School, both at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.
He is a member of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents and the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation Board. Limbaugh serves as an Executive Committee member with the Southeast Missouri State University Booster Club. He is a past chairman and active in the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and is a past chairman of the Shawnee District, Boy Scouts of America. He is a lifelong member of Centenary United Methodist Church. In 2006, Limbaugh received the Rush H. Limbaugh Award presented annually by the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce.
Limbaugh and his wife, Benita, have three children - Katherine Limbaugh Foristal, a math specialist with the Parkway School District in St. Louis; James P. Limbaugh, II, a sales representative with Anheuser-Busch InBev in Denver, CO. and Margaret Limbaugh, a junior at the University of Missouri - Columbia.

About Southeast Missouri Hospital

Southeast Missouri Hospital is a 266-bed medical center serving a population of 600,000 in 22 southeast Missouri and southern Illinois counties. The Hospital's staff of more than 300 physicians and 2,200 employees offers a full continuum of healthcare and wellness services. In addition to the main Hospital, Southeast also operates:
  • Two medically-integrated fitness centers
  • A free-standing Regional Cancer Center
  • The Campus Health Clinic at Southeast Missouri State University and
  • Two medical office complexes, one on the main Hospital campus and one on the Hospital's West Campus on the rapidly growing western edge of the city.
A new, $33 million Regional Cancer Center, slated for a late 2010 opening, is under construction on the West Campus as well.