DCMC President & CEO Jerry Worrick Retires, Brian Stephens to Take on Role
On January 5, 2019, Door County Medical Center (DCMC) will bid farewell to current president and CEO Gerald (Jerry) Worrick, who retires after 31 years of service to the Door County and NE Wisconsin community. DCMC Chief Administrative Officer, Brian Stephens, has been with DCMC for 13 years and will assume the role of CEO in the New Year.
Door County’s Community Hospital
Since its inception in 1943, DCMC has undergone several organizational transformations and subsequent name changes. Worrick initially joined the hospital in 1987, then Door County Memorial, as interim CEO, leaving behind a position at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.
“The board of Door County Memorial contacted the CEO at St. Vincent in Green Bay, Joe Neidenbach, and asked if they could loan someone from their system or hospital for over here,” remembers Worrick, “Joe thought that in order to make it a successful working relationship between the two, leadership from outside Green Bay should be brought in. They wanted to eliminate the suspicion that someone from Green Bay was trying to manipulate the hospital and direct people to St. Vincent.”
Worrick recalls the advice he received from Neidenbach at the time, “You just do what’s best for the community and the hospital and let the chips fall where they may.”
After two months on the job, Worrick officially accepted the role of president and CEO and he and his wife, Candace, moved their family to Door County.
Building DCMC Culture
Recognized earlier this year as one of the top rural hospital executives in America by Becker’s Healthcare, Worrick honed his leadership skills over the years by listening to those around him. One person who really inspired him was Dr. John Herlache, who cautioned Worrick, “If the word patient doesn’t come out of your mouth after four or five sentences, don’t bother talking to me.”
Worrick used his position to improve a patient’s overall experience and to develop a culture of caring at DCMC that has been nationally recognized many times over. A crowning achievement in patient care was building the Cancer Center, which affords state-of-the-art cancer treatment without having to leave the peninsula.
“Jerry spent his career building a culture of trust, respect, community, family and compassion, and there’s no way that we could perform as one of the best rural medical centers in the United States without that,” says Brian Stephens, “I am so grateful for that foundation and it’s certainly marching orders for us to make sure that whatever we do going forward that we protect that.”
Preserving DCMC Culture
The Chief Executive Officer at DCMC is one of the most coveted CEO positions in Wisconsin. Worrick and the Board of Directors knew they would have no shortage of qualified applicants, but central to their criteria was hiring someone who was already familiar with DCMC. Previous CFO, Bob Scieszinski, planted the seed that perhaps Brian Stephens, at the time the new Chief Financial Officer, would be an ideal candidate.
“If you can find someone in your organization to take your job, who knows and practices and believes the culture, then you can preserve the culture,” says Worrick, “I’ve watched Brian grow over the years; he went out and got his MBA and broadened his scope.”
In preparation for the transition, Stephens put together a curriculum that he and Worrick reviewed every two weeks for the past 18 months. Worrick also made Brian Chief Administrative Officer so he could gain additional experience outside of hospital finance.
“I think part of thing that prepares you for the role of CEO is to remember to trust the staff and that it's not all in your hands,” says Stephens, “It’s a big responsibility, but the staff make the day-to-day decisions and do what’s best for the patients. They are living it everyday.”
Taking It To The Next Level
As Worrick enjoys the remaining days of his time at DCMC, he takes pride in knowing that the medical center will continue to thrive under Stephens’ leadership.
“I come from the vintage of hospital CEOs who were builders. Now the CEO of the future is getting into health outside the walls of the hospital,” says Worrick, “The campus is built and the various services are in place, now you can go out into the community and really focus on things like health and wellness.”
Stephens admits that the initial conversation with Worrick about taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer was an honor and a privilege. “Every morning for the past 31 years, Jerry woke up and hit the ground running to make this organization a better place, to make us a bigger and more important part of the community,” says Stephens, “It has been a really unique opportunity to work with him and I will do everything I can to live up to the legacy he created.”