DECATUR — Joan Coffman, hired nine months ago to lead HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital amid a series of projects, is taking a health care administration job near New Orleans, her hometown. The Decatur hospital on Friday said her last day will be July 13.
“It is bittersweet because we've got so much momentum going,” said Coffman, the president and CEO of the 244-bed facility. “It is good to know that they will be followed through and completed with or without me.”
Coffman will serve as the new president and CEO at St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, where she started her career as a radiologic technologist. Coffman said she is excited to join her parents, siblings, son and grandson who live in Louisiana.
"It is God calling me home,” Coffman said. “It is a special opportunity and certainly not one I expected.”
The departure is the latest in a series of recent developments for the hospital, an affiliate of the Hospital Sisters Health System.
St. Mary's is in the middle of a $9 million renovation to its intensive care unit and is building a $12 million medical office building. Coffman also said a new vascular lab was created to do state of the art vascular interventional procedures.
On Wednesday, it was announced they were acquiring Decatur Ambulance Service. And in early June, officials said Julie Moore Wolfe, the Decatur mayor, would be leaving her job as director of community and government relations at Decatur Memorial Hospital to become executive director of philanthropy, advocacy and community relations at St. Mary's.
Moore Wolfe on Friday said she didn't know about Coffman leaving when she took the job.
"I think it came up pretty quickly," Moore Wolfe said.
She said Coffman made an impression during the brief tenure.
"She has not been here very long, but she sure has had an impact on our community, and I’m sad to see her go," Moore Wolfe said.
Said Decatur Memorial Hospital President and CEO Timothy Stone Jr., “I was disappointed to learn that Joan will be leaving our community. By working together, I believe our community has benefited. Joan was someone I respected. I found her to be a bright and articulate health care leader. I wish her the very best of luck in her future endeavors."
Coffman previously was president and CEO of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Her career with HSHS began in 2008, and she also served as CEO of The Louisiana Clinic and assistant administrator of Lindy Boggs Medical Center in New Orleans until 2005 when it closed due to flood damage from Hurricane Katrina.
Until a new president and CEO is hired, E.J. Kuiper, president and CEO of HSHS Central Illinois Division Hospitals, will serve in an interim leadership role. The permanent replacement will be picked by Kuiper, the 11-member board of directors and the HSHS system, Coffman said. There is no timeline, she said.
Mirinda Rothrock, president of the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce, said she looks forward to meeting the next hospital CEO and introducing him or her to the "great Decatur community." Coffman also served on the chamber board.
"We have collaborated on many different initiatives, and (St. Mary's has) been great supporters of our chamber of commerce," Rothrock said. "I would just welcome the opportunity to continue that partnership and continue to make Decatur and Macon County a great place to be."
Coffman said her fondest memories with the HSHS system were working with the Hospital Sisters.
“We are here to carry forth the mission of the Hospital Sisters,” she said. “It is a mission we feel a sense of responsibility for.”
Coffman also said she enjoyed events that strengthened the bond between St. Mary’s and the community.
“It's been an amazing journey, and I've been so blessed to serve at HSHS St. Mary's Hospital,” she said. “I love the people at St. Mary's.”