LIHU’E – Dr. Lee “Bill” Evslin, new president and chief executive officer of Wilcox Health, envisions a hospital and clinic network “beloved” by the people of Kaua’i.
Most recently president and CEO of Kauai Medical Clinic, Evslin yesterday was officially introduced to around 40 Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Kauai Medical Clinic and Wilcox Health Foundation employees as president and CEO of Wilcox Health, the umbrella organization for the three medical and support services.
Evslin takes over the hospital-side duties formerly held by Dr. David Patton. Patton was promoted to senior executive vice president at parent corporation Hawaii Pacific Health in Honolulu.
Evslin is a board-certified pediatrician and has been with the Kauai Medical Clinic for 24 years. He had been president and CEO of the clinic since 1990. He is also an executive vice president of Hawaii Pacific Health, which formed when Wilcox Health merged with Kapi’olani Health and Straub Clinic & Hospital.
The head of Wilcox Health told employees assembled Monday morning that if a small Minnesota town can give birth to what is now the world-famous Mayo Clinic, Wilcox Health should be able to gain “beloved” status in the eyes of residents of and visitors to Kaua’i.
“There are some things we do wonderfully here,” he said, adding that for a small, rural hospital, Wilcox has a “remarkable” infrastructure.
Visitors to the island see and feel the warmth of Wilcox, but the facility is not appreciated in the same way by all residents, he said.
Evslin said he is aiming to improve local perception of the facilities, with ideas in the works to bring in two specialists in each discipline for the clinics, improve relationships with Westside health-care providers, and place what he calls “hospitalists” on the floors of the hospital so that clinic physicians can concentrate on clinic patients.
Hospitalists are doctors who stay on the hospital floors, handling admissions and regular care of patients in the hospital, he said, and the organizational change should mean an end to clinic doctors running all over the place to see patients.
Having two specialists in each discipline gives patients choices, and will spread the heavy workload over two doctors instead of one, he said.
An entire new obstetrics/gynecology team, two new neurologists and three new surgeons are among the nearly two dozen new professionals Wilcox Health has or will welcome soon, Evslin said.
“I think it’s do-able,” he said of his dream and vision of a health-care system warmly embraced by visitors and residents alike. “I am so privileged to be part of this team.”
Where the hospital doesn’t have necessary facilities and expertise for certain complicated surgeries and other procedures, there exists on Kaua’i a “wonderful transfer system” for moving patients to O’ahu, Evslin continued.
Having a single CEO instead of two should make for more efficiency, though the hospital and clinic will be separate corporations to allow independent physicians to continue practicing medicine at the hospital, Evslin said.
“Life is good, and we expect Bill will make it even better,” said Paul Douglass, chair of the Wilcox Health board of directors. Douglass also praised Patton for his “good stewardship” while running the hospital and foundation sides of Wilcox Health.
Patton said the legacy of a good leader is empowering leaders to follow, and that he has “seen tremendous growth” in those executives left to “blossom in place” at Wilcox Health.
“Change for the sake of change isn’t something I think any one of us want,” but the “meaningful change” that took place officially yesterday is one that will benefit employees, the hospital, clinic, foundation and patients, Patton said.
“I think it can be a good thing for Wilcox, for Kaua’i, and for Hawaii Pacific Health,” said Patton, whose new position will mean he will commute from Wailua Homesteads to Honolulu.
The leadership transition was blessed by the Rev. Isamu Morita, a member of the chaplaincy program at the hospital.
During his brief address, Evslin unveiled a sculpture titled “The Caregivers” and created by Kaua’i artist Jana Vila. The piece shows three people dealing with a care-giving situation and is designed to not clearly identify the caregiver, he said. It will be placed in the hospital lobby, and Evslin said he hopes the sculpture will personify the feeling of care-giving at Wilcox Health.
Both Patton and Evslin said the excellent administrative work of vice presidents Cathy Adams (nursing and pharmacy operations), Lynne Joseph (other operations) and Julie Rukstad (finance) made the transition possible and a smooth one.
He is a member of the Hawaii Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association. He is interested in all aspects of healing, community wellness, and the role of computers in medicine.
Evslin attended the University of Vermont in Burlington, and graduated from medical school at the State University of New York in Buffalo. He cosmpleted his internship and residency at Maine Medical Center in Portland, followed by a fellowship with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Born in 1947, he lives in Wailua Homesteads with wife, Monica “Miki” Evslin. The couple have four children.
In his new role, Patton’s duties include supporting the Hawaii Pacific Health Center for Health Outcomes, organizational development system-wide, and facility planning system-wide.
Patton was appointed president and CEO of Wilcox Health System in 1998. Prior to moving to Kaua’i, Patton was employed by the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, serving as CEO of Kona Community Hospital.
He began his career in hospital administration in 1971, as CEO of Presentation Sisters Health System in South Dakota. Later, he became CEO of Parkview Episcopal Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo., and then CEO of Riverside Community Hospital in California.
Patton received his doctorate and master’s degrees in business administration from Claremont Graduate School, after receiving a master’s degree in hospital and health care administration from the University of Minnesota, and his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.
He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare, and will continue to live in Wailua Homesteads with his wife, Barbara.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 224).