JOLIET — The Joliet Area Community Hospice Board of Directors has named a permanent CEO to fill the organization's top role vacated earlier this year by former CEO Rick Kasper.
The board voted Oct. 12 to select interim CEO Mary Sheehan for the position.
Owning her own consulting firm and working with several Illinois hospices since 2012 has helped prepare for this role, she said.
“It gave me a broad view of the challenges faced by different hospices, different staff and different communities,” she said.
Sheehan said Wednesday her goals will be to improve the patient referral process and access to care, grow the organization's clientele base, and educate the community about JACH's services.
Carolyn Dystrup, board president, said in a news release she is pleased for Sheehan to fill the leadership role.
“We observed her enthusiasm and thoroughness in assessing and approaching all aspects of hospice care and services,” Dystrup said. “Not only has Mary been focusing on increasing admissions and length of stay, she has also identified areas for improvement and cost savings.”
Sheehan brings three decades of experience as a hospice nurse and administrator, having entered the field in the 1980s when the hospice movement started to gain momentum, she said.
“I'm a nurse. My training was in oncology. I watched patients die and not die well. I knew there had to be a better way,” she said.
During Sheehan's 16-year career at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter in Glenview, Sheehan's leadership skills helped eventually move her up the ranks from coordinator of quality assurance to president and CEO.
Sheehan is joining the JACH staff during trying financial times at the state level. Medicaid reimbursement payments from Illinois are lagging 10 months behind schedule, she said, so the nonprofit has resorted to using cash reserves during the state's budget impasse, which began in July.
“Our payments have slowed down tremendously,” she said. “The government believes in hospice. We just need to pass a budget.”
The new CEO's other priority is to streamline operations and improve efficiencies within the organization, she said.
Sheehan declined to provide her annual salary as new CEO. During Kasper's time in the position, he earned $110,870, plus $36,457 in additional compensation, according to the JACH's 990 form from 2013. The 990 form is an annual report that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS.
Two other administrators have left JACH over the last six months. Dr. Ray Orenic, the former medical director, left in April. He made an annual salary of $180,471. He was replaced by Dr. J.D. Wright.
Operations Vice President Judy Militello Zimmerman retired as of May 22. She made an annual salary of $84,826.