Interim hospital leader takes ownership in community

One month into his job as interim president and CEO of Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, John Hughes said he wouldn’t mind if he’s stripped of the “interim” title in the future.

“I would consider it strongly,” Hughes said if he was offered the job permanently. “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings to have to make that decision.”

Hughes, 49, a Marshalltown resident, was named interim CEO following the resignation of Brian Burnside earlier this year. Burnside has remained on as an advisor, and Hughes moved up from his position as chief operating officer on Feb. 1.

“It seems to be going OK,” Hughes said.

The MMSC board is expected to decide in the future if Hughes will stay on as CEO or if they will conduct a nationwide search. Board Chair Dr. Terry Briggs said they may make a decision on which direction to take in March. He has been happy with what Hughes has accomplished in the lead role the past month.

“Obviously, John is well qualified for the position,” Briggs said. “He’s a very talented person.”

Hughes feels he has the experience and leadership skills needed to be successful in the role.

“I think the skill set that a position like this needs is the ability to get people focused on a common set of goals,” he said.

Burnside led the planning for the future facility needs of MMSC. The steering committee continues to look at four facility options to remake the future of the hospital and is expected to present a recommendation to the board, though a timeframe on that decision has not been set.

Hughes said the on-again, off-again rumors of them closing the MMSC Clinic are untrue.

“As of this very moment we have no plans to close the clinic, here in Marshalltown or any other communities,” he said.

As far the current financial standing of the hospital, Hughes said there is room for improvement.

“We have a few challenges, but we’re optimistic,” Hughes said.

Of course, leaders of all health care facilities across the country are uneasy with the future of Medicaid and Medicare, and the decisions that will need to be made in Washington, D.C.

“Every day is a surprise,” Hughes said of uncertainty with many things related to health care including these types of reimbursements. “You’ve just got to be flexible.”

Hughes was the executive director of McFarland Clinic in Marshalltown before leaving to take a job with Delphi Healthcare Partners. He said he left on good terms with McFarland and has a good working relationship with MMSC’s neighbor to the north.

Hughes and his wife Cary have four children, and he said he loves this community and wants to see its hospital thrive.

“I have a strong ownership in this community and would like to see it have as strong a hospital as possible,” he said. “… It’s a committed team (here), and we are going to figure it out together.”