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Thursday, May 02, 2013 - Munson Healthcare Executive Announces Retirement Plans

Munson Healthcare Executive Announces Retirement Plans
Jim Austin, leader of Kalkaska and Frankfort hospitals, will step down in 2014

After 24 years in executive roles at Munson Healthcare, Jim Austin has announced his retirement effective Feb. 28, 2014.

Austin is administrator of Kalkaska Memorial Health Center in Kalkaska and president of Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort.

“I have been blessed by having the opportunity to work for Munson Healthcare and I appreciate the opportunity given to me by Ralph Cerny to serve the health care system in both the Kalkaska and the Benzie communities,” Austin said.

Austin joined Munson Healthcare in 1989 as administrator of Kalkaska Memorial Health Center. In 1994, he became president of the Frankfort hospital. Under his leadership, both hospitals were recognized for innovations, quality, and patient satisfaction.

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center opened the first provider-based rural health clinic in the state in 1991 and Kalkaska Memorial Health Center and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital became the first and second critical access hospitals in the state in 1999. Both hospitals received Michigan Quality Council Lighthouse awards in 2003 and the Michigan Quality Council Navigator Award in 2004. Both were ranked at the top 2 percent in the country for employee engagement in 2012.

“Over the years Jim has provided innovative leadership and vision for our hospitals and established great examples for the rest of the state in how to provide access to quality health care in a rural community,” said Ed Ness, Munson Healthcare president and CEO. “We appreciate his commitment to the residents of Frankfort and Kalkaska over the years, and his advocacy for rural hospitals within the state.”

Austin announced his retirement plans at regular meetings of the Kalkaska Board of Trustees and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees the week of April 22. He will remain with both hospitals until February 28, 2014, during which time he will assist hospital boards to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

Austin began his career as a child care worker at a Michigan Department of Mental Health Residential Treatment Center, served as a social worker at a Department of Mental Health psychiatric hospital in Ionia, and before joining Munson Healthcare, was administrator for the Birchwood Center in Traverse City. During his nine years there, the nursing home received the National Award of Excellence two years in a row.

Boards at both hospitals are reviewing succession plans and future leadership announcements are expected in coming months.