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Wishard Foundation seeks new leader after CEO resigns

June 8, 2009

The CEO of the Wishard Foundation resigned last month, prompting the fund-raising arm of Wishard Health Services to tap consulting firm Johnson Grossnickle & Associates for a replacement.

James Wood resigned on May 15. In his place, Ernie Vargo, a senior consultant at Johnson Grossnickle, will serve as interim CEO until Wishard names Wood's replacement, likely in August or September.

The change in leadership comes at a critical time for Wishard. Vargo and Johnson Grossnickle were nearing completion of a feasibility study regarding increased fund raising for Wishard. One of several options they're weighing is whether to ask private donors for major gifts to fund construction of a new hospital.

The feasibility study will be completed by the end of June. Then Wishard leaders will use the results to help draw up a plan for the hospital's future needs.

"We have been analyzing and studying how to address our capital needs," said Matt Gutwein, CEO of the Health and Hospital Corp., the government-funded entity that runs Wishard. The feasibility study will gauge, he added, "the community's interest in having Wishard continue to thrive, and its support for the work of Wishard."

Gutwein said Wood resigned without acrimony.

"Jim resigned voluntarily, and we wish Jim the very best," Gutwein added. Wood could not be reached for comment.

During his time as interim CEO, Vargo said, he will focus on creating a fund-raising team at the Wishard Foundation.

"It may be the new hospital. It may be other things. But certainly those in the community and those with the ability to make major gifts need to know about Wishard," Vargo said.

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