* After five years of ascending through the ranks of Kindred Healthcare and leading the nursing home company through a high-profile bankruptcy reorganization, CEO Edward Kuntz will step down to become executive chairman of the board effective Jan. 1, 2004, the company said.
The move comes as Kindred reported an 84% drop in fourth-quarter net income to $3.1 million, or 18 cents per share, from $19 million, or 98 cents per share, in the year-ago fourth quarter, when it was operating under bankruptcy protection. Officials cited high liability costs and Medicare reimbursement reductions as contributing to the reduction. For the full year, the Louisville, Ky.-based company earned net income of $34.8 million, or $1.93 per share, on revenue of $3.4 billion.
* After an exhaustive seven-month national search that included interviews of the finalists by employees, physicians and community members, 334-bed Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash., has hired Arizona hospital administrator Joseph Kortum as its new president and CEO. He starts in mid-May.
Kortum, 50, heads Northern Arizona Healthcare, a three-hospital system in Flagstaff that he built by orchestrating the affiliation of Flagstaff Medical Center and Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood, and the formation of Sedona
Southwest Washington Medical Center's search committee held a series of "stakeholder meetings" last year to help the hospital's board determine the most important characteristics of the new CEO.
Kortum will have to give up a prestigious title to take the post. In January he began a one-year term as chairman of the board of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.