KLAMATH FALLS (June 29, 2021) – Paul Stewart, long-time president and chief executive officer of Sky Lakes Medical Center, today announced his retirement effective January 1, 2022.
In today’s announcement to Sky Lakes employees, Stewart noted he would remain in a “support position” through 2022 to help “ensure a stable and smooth transition to new leadership.”
Stewart has been at the Klamath Falls medical center for 35 years, 30 of them as Chief Executive Officer.
“(In that time) I have seen tremendous growth and wondrous change in our organization,” he said. “Most importantly, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working alongside remarkable individuals. Together we’ve worked hard to create an organizational culture where our leadership is honest and transparent, and our employees and providers are treated with fairness, respect and dignity.”
“Everyone on the Board of Directors is extremely grateful for everything Paul has done over the decades for Sky Lakes and for the community,” said John Bell, Board Chairman. “The board is dedicated to finding the best fit for the community as well as for the organization.”
The Sky Lakes Board of Directors has engaged Heidrick and Struggles an international firm that specializes in recruiting for CEO positions, to develop a list of candidates, both from within Sky Lakes and elsewhere. The board along with other hospital leadership, medical staff, and local business and civic leaders will provide the board feedback on the finalist candidates. The process is expected to take up to six months.
In his in-house announcement, Stewart highlighted the medical center’s past year – preparing for and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and an October ransomware attack on its computer systems – and some of the achievements during his tenure. Those achievements include being twice named a Top 100 Community Hospital in the nation, creation of the Sky Lakes Cancer Treatment Center, opening the new medical center in 2007, and construction of the Sky Lakes Collaborative Health Center.
Oregon Business & Industry in 2017 presented Stewart its Statesman of the Year Award, which recognizes an Oregon leader for extraordinary achievements in public service, consensus building and forging collaborative solutions to critical issues facing the state.
As the CEO of a business that is vital to his community, Stewart helped forge innovative public-private partnerships to improve the Klamath region and highlighted his work in bringing to the community a collective mindset that emphasizes wellness.
Under Stewart’s leadership, Sky Lakes made a commitment to the community in 2015 to work with civic and government groups to develop trails, parks and green spaces, and provide educational services to the public, including swimming lessons to every third-grader in the county. Sky Lakes helped organize the Healthy Klamath Coalition and introduce the Blue Zones Project, a municipal health initiative that brought international recognition for the Klamath Falls region as a “Blue Zone” community.
“Since I’ve been CEO,” he said, “we’ve grown from 800 employees to about 1,500. We added cardiology services, cancer treatment services, and the Family Medicine residency. The region saw our organization transform from a local hospital to a regional medical center with the services and equipment you’d find in metropolitan facilities.”
Stewart also noted the strong financial condition of the organization — so far this year it is considerably better than other hospitals in Oregon – and the board’s philosophical commitment that Sky Lakes remain an independent, stand-alone, community-based hospital with decisions made by people who live in Klamath Falls.
“The board has always had the community’s best interest at heart even as Sky Lakes continued to be an industry leader,” Board Chair Bell said. “That doesn’t change: Sky Lakes will stay locally governed.”
Sky Lakes has a solid business foundation and sound organizational structure “that we can build on,” he added.
“I am confident – I have no doubt whatsoever! – that the future of Sky Lakes Medical Center is bright with an incredibly committed Board of Directors, strong leadership and a dedicated team of employees and medical staff, supported by loyal volunteers,” Stewart said.
“Sky Lakes is recognized nationally for its excellence that’s only possible because of the hard work and commitment of everyone here at every level,” he said, adding “the things that make Sky Lakes something very special will continue long after I leave the corner office.”
About Sky Lakes: Sky Lakes Medical Center is a not-for-profit, community-owned, internationally accredited acute-care teaching hospital dedicated to the people it serves. As a leader in the health care industry, Sky Lakes also an economic and social asset for the community. It is licensed for 176 beds and offers a full range of inpatient and outpatient services, a home health agency, primary care clinics and a variety of specialty physician clinics.