LIHUE — I could not walk. I could not do my job, anymore.
Kathy Clark said she lay in bed and prayed.
“You can do whatever you want with me,” Clark said. “I’m in your hands.”
The next day, Clark got a call from Kauai saying she got a job on the island.
Behind her was a career as a nurse and managerial positions for various hospitals in Iowa and California.
The phone call started a 10-year stay on Kauai, where she started as the chief nurse executive/director of nursing and carried her to retirement as the CEO of the Wilcox Hospital.
Within six months of joining the Wilcox Hospital team, Clark became the president and CEO of Wilcox Hospital in September 2005. In April 2013, Clark assumed the responsibility of CEO of Kauai Medical Clinic.
“From the day she came in the door, I was an advocate for her to lead the hospital,” said Lyle Tabata, the county’s deputy engineer. “When she was named the Wilcox Hospital CEO, my dream finally came true. She was the best administrator the hospital has had. The hospital is now making money. But now she’s leaving.”
Clark is retiring on June 30 following her announcement last year.
Hawaii Pacific Health announced that Jen Chahanovich will become the new president and CEO of Wilcox Memorial Hospital and CEO of the Kauai Medical Clinic.
As the days count down toward Clark’s retirement, Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. paid tribute to the healthcare professional by declaring June 5 as Ambassador of Healthcare Kathy Clark Day for the legacy she leaves on Kauai as well as being Kauai’s Ambassador of Healthcare because she exemplifies professionalism in the health care field.
“Kathy has had a profound influence in many ways at Wilcox Hospital, receiving the 2014 Healthcare of Hawaii Award recently on Oahu,” Carvalho said in his proclamation. “One of Kathy’s greatest accomplishments during her tenure at Wilcox Hospital is they currently rank in the top 5 percent in the nation.”
Clark has received notable awards and achievements as well as publishing a paper on comprehensive basic cardiology, the mayor said.
“How did he know that?” Clark interrupted with a chuckle.
During her road to being named the 2014 Healthcare of Hawaii Award, Clark, who graduated the 2006 Leadership Kauai class, said it was brought up that she hand-writes her Christmas cards to each of the 860 employees at Wilcox Hospital.
“They wanted to know if it was true and asked me to demonstrate,” Clark said. “I didn’t know where to start. I thought I would start with Clarence Ishida in the Environmental Department and name the departments.”
She said retirement will bring her back to the Mainland and her children and family.
“I can do whatever I want,”Clark said. “If it wasn’t for 3,000 miles and my family being so far away, I might still be here. But no matter what happens, a piece of me will always be here and I will always be thinking of Kauai, and the Wilcox Hospital.”