Stillwater Medical Center Chief Operations Officer Denise Webber has been selected to replace CEO Jerry Moeller when he retires Jan. 15. Her first day on the job will be Jan. 17.
Webber’s promotion was approved during a special meeting of the hospital Board of Trustees Friday.
“There were over 100 applicants for this position and the Board of Trustees took this responsibility very seriously,” SMC board chair Lowell Barto said in a statement released by the hospital. “Webber has a proven track record of outstanding leadership and we feel honored to have her as our next leader at SMC.”
Webber, a Broken Arrow native, came to SMC for a fellowship in 2003 after completing her master’s degree in healthcare administration.
She said she expected to move back to a larger city after finishing that fellowship but that didn’t happen. Instead, she fell in love with Stillwater, and has spent the past 12 years at Stillwater Medical Center.
Webber joined the hospital’s staff as director of physician practice management and was subsequently promoted to assistant administrator, a position on the senior management team. She was later promoted to vice-president of administrative services before moving into her current role of COO.
She recently completed a senior-level executive program through the College for Health Care Executives.
The hospital board of directors applauded Webber’s move into the CEO role.
“It’s an important decision, not just for our employees but for the whole community,” said trustee Calvin Anthony.
Webber said when she moves into her new position, her focus will change from details and daily operations to looking at the big picture and building relationships.
“The COO is very internal, while the CEO is more external,” she said. “There’s a saying about the role of a CEO, ‘a mile wide and an inch deep.’”
One of her first orders of business will be replacing herself. Because the trend has shifted toward hospitals employing physicians, it’s going to be important for the next COO to have a strong background in physician recruitment and practice management, she said.
Webber said she wants to continue the hospital on its current trajectory of improving patient and employee satisfaction. She has led a team of employees that implemented the Good to Great service culture program over the past five years.
It has been credited with bringing employee engagement ratings from the 29th percentile to the 95th percentile or higher. SMC has been listed in the Top–100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare four years running.
“Research shows that a happy workforce results in happy patients,” Barto said in the hospital statement. “Webber’s leadership on this effort is to be commended. Not only have her results been noticed by the board, but also by organizations that have sought after SMC’s education materials and have invited Denise to speak on this topic at a national level.
“We are pleased that after conducting a national search for Moeller’s successor, that we have found her right here at SMC.”