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Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center announces executive Hazel Philbert as interim CEO

Hazel Philbert, Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center chief operating officer, has been selected as the hospital’s interim CEO upon the departure of Douglas Koch from the position later this month.
Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center
Hazel Philbert, Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center chief operating officer, has been selected as the hospital’s interim CEO upon the departure of Douglas Koch from the position later this month.

ST. CROIX — Hazel Philbert, chief operating officer at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center, will serve as the hospital’s interim chief executive officer upon the departure of Douglas Koch from the position later this month until a new permanent CEO is selected, JFL announced today.

The Executive Committee of the Virgin Islands Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation, commonly known as the territorial hospital board, voted today to select Philbert as the interim CEO, according to Chris Finch, territorial hospital board chair. He said by phone that the full board is expected to ratify the Executive Committee’s selection of Philbert as interim CEO during a meeting on Wednesday.

“The board is certain Ms. Philbert will be a positive and steady leader for JFL over the next several months as we search for a new CEO,” Finch said in a statement. “Through her presentations at board meetings, we have been impressed with her encyclopedic knowledge of hospital operations and her passion for quality improvement.”

Philbert, who has held the COO position at the hospital for the last three and a half years, brings a wealth of knowledge in health care regulations and long experience with JFL management to the role of interim CEO, according to JFL. She is a registered nurse with more than 12 years of experience at JFL, where she has advanced in leadership positions during her career. She has a master’s degree in health sciences and business administration and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality, which is the only accredited credential in health care quality.

The hospital board thanked all the candidates who applied for the interim CEO position, noting in the press release that it was gratifying to have several JFL leaders with the ability, interest, commitment, and passion to apply to lead the hospital during this interim period.

Finch said the board only considered applications for the interim CEO position from internal hospital employees familiar with the operations who could immediately step into a leadership role. He said four individuals applied.

Philbert will be training with Koch during the next few weeks before his departure date, which has not yet been announced. Finch said Philbert is involved with the day-to-day operations of the hospital as the COO, so working with Koch up until the end of the month will give her an opportunity to learn about any of his ongoing initiatives as she transitions into the interim CEO position.

Additionally, Finch said the hospital’s leadership team is preparing to appear for its fiscal year 2025 budget hearing before the Senate Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance on July 26. Although Koch’s last day has not yet been determined, Finch said the expectation is that Philbert will lead the hospital’s budget presentation before senators.

The hospital board hired the hospital CEO search firm, Kirby Bates and Associates, to assist with recruiting a new permanent CEO. Finch confirmed that work is underway, and a decision is expected to be made by the fall.

“They’ve already started their initial investigation and interviewing a number of people on the island about what our needs are for the next CEO,” Finch said today.

The firm has already started interviewing board members, physicians, hospital leadership, and residents to find out what they think the strongest needs are in a CEO candidate, Finch said. He said the CEO position will be advertised locally and nationally.

“There’s already a large handful of people who have said they would like to be considered,” he said.

Koch resigned as the hospital’s CEO after serving in the position for two and a half years.

READ MORE: “Douglas Koch resigns as JFL chief executive officer to return to Midwest to be closer to family”

Finch said Koch is returning to the Midwest because both of his parents are frail and in need of stronger care, and he wanted to be closer to them.

“The board of directors was saddened and disappointed to learn of Mr. Koch’s decision to relocate,” Finch said in a statement. “We certainly understand and support his reasons. We look forward to working alongside Ms. Philbert over the next months as she steers JFL through its many challenges.”

Tom Eader is the Chief Reporter for WTJX. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Eader received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Ball State University, where he wrote for his college newspaper. He moved to St. Croix in 2003, after landing a job as a reporter for the St. Croix Avis. Eader worked at the Avis for 20 years, as both a reporter and photographer, and served as Bureau Chief from 2013 until their closure at the beginning of 2024. Eader is an award-winning journalist, known for his thorough and detailed reporting on multiple topics important to the Virgin Islands community. Joining the WTJX team in January of 2024, Eader brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the newsroom. Email: | Phone: 340-227-4463
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