Case Study

Mountains Community Hospital Thrives with New CEO


Mountains Community Hospital, in California’s Lake Arrowhead, is a Critical Access hospital. Several years ago, the hospital’s problems were substantial. Like most rural California hospitals, it was suffering financially, it was struggling with its computer system, and MD relationships were subpar and expensive. The community’s perception of the hospital was also not what the District Board wanted.


When the CEO retired, the hospital issued a Request for Proposal and HFS was chosen to conduct the search. Don Whiteside, HFS’s managing director of executive search and interim management, realized the challenges of finding the right person for the job. He knew that he needed to find someone for the CEO position who had a strong understanding of small, rural hospitals, a grasp of the politics of a small community, good executive leadership abilities, financial acumen, and fine-tuned community and physician relationship skills. It was clear that a seasoned, highly experienced executive was needed to improve the hospital.


After a six-month search, HFS presented the hospital’s board of directors with eight candidates. Those eight were then narrowed down to four, who were interviewed. Seasoned executive Charlie Harrison was chosen as CEO. On the heels of that successful search, HFS then helped the hospital to place a CFO. Today, five years later, the hospital is a thriving CAH hospital with a positive bottom line. The hospital has a loyal medical staff, and has added new services. Recently, HFS was called on to replace the retiring COO/CNO, and once again has successfully placed a highly experienced professional.

"We think of HFS as our trusted partner and 'go to' consultants for many situations. We have relied on HFS for assistance in reconfiguring our Patient Financial Services group, maintaining our HPSA status, and recruiting a multitalented CNO/COO. The HFS Consultants are seasoned professionals. They not only understand our needs but they truly understand our business and our role in the provision of healthcare in a rural setting."

– Charles H. Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, San Bernardino Mountains Community Hospital District

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