Brian Chalmers, The Memorial Hospital's new chief financial officer, stands in front of the facility's main entrance Friday. Chalmers moved to Craig with his wife and four sons from Choteau, Mont., and has worked in health care for 10 years.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Brian Chalmers, The Memorial Hospital's new chief financial officer, stands in front of the facility's main entrance Friday. Chalmers moved to Craig with his wife and four sons from Choteau, Mont., and has worked in health care for 10 years.

New CFO starts work at hospital

Brian Chalmers brings 10 years of health care experience

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Brian Chalmers didn't know it when he graduated college with a degree in social work, but the apple didn't fall far from his family tree of accountants.

Today, Chalmers, 40, sits behind a large desk in his own office as the new chief financial officer for The Memorial Hospital.

Chalmers is replacing Woody Hathaway, the former interim CFO, who retired.

Chalmers began work this week.

Growing up in a family of certified public accountants, Chalmers decided to go in a different direction with his studies.

He received his bachelor's degree in social work and counseled battered women and disturbed teens.

However, he didn't feel perfectly comfortable in his chosen path, so he went back to school to become a CPA, like other members of his family.

About 10 years ago, he decided it was time to look for something more stable than the seasonal surge of tax work and came across the opportunity to make the switch into health care.

But he said the transition into health care carried emotional benefits, as well.

"I'm not cut out to be a nurse or a doctor," he said. "I don't like blood. But this is one way I can contribute. I'm able to provide and assist with the delivery of quality health care."

On Sunday, he moved to Craig, while the rest of his family - his wife, Michele, and four sons - will move here Oct.10 from the small town of Choteau, Mont.

Dylan, 9, Connor, 6, and Skyler, 4, will be attending Ridgeview Elementary School. The Chalmers' also have a 10-month-old named Caleb.

"Our interest was never to live in a big city," he said. "We like the community involvement and how Craig still has family values. We visited a few times, and it just felt comfortable. It felt like where we lived before."

Chalmers said the local scenery isn't much different from Choteau, but it was more than the natural surroundings that drew him to Craig.

While researching the hospital and its administration, he found that TMH had a reputation for having a strong team environment, he said.

"It's so important to have that team behind you," he said. "You're not out there alone. I mean, it's not like others are going to do your work for you, but they're going to make sure that you don't drop the ball."

Chalmers is joining TMH during a historical time for the organization.

On Nov. 12, TMH's new facility, on Moffat County Road 7 west of Craig, will open and the old campus on Russell Street will shut down.

Along with next year's budget and overseeing monthly operations, Chalmers has to stay on top of financing the $42.6 million building.

"It's exciting," he said. "I'm probably coming in right at the height of it all. I'm coming in on the note of many other people's happiness and energy."

One of the challenges he'll face as the new CFO is the process of financing the new building.

Besides the mill levy taxes and hospital revenue, funds for the new building also come from Medicare reimbursements.

When the new hospital opens, it will continue to receive the same rate of reimbursement from the government for one year, though operating costs will be higher.

Chalmers hopes to take action to try and adjust that reimbursement rate as soon as he can so the hospital can get ahead on its finances before it has to begin making payments on the building in June 2010.

But he said he has a good team and a solid background to help him transition into his new position and the new facility.

"I'm very excited to work with George (Rohrich, chief executive officer)," he said. "I'm happy to be working with this team, and I plan to stay awhile."

One of his favorite parts of the job also is coming up soon: budget season.

"I'm really looking forward to working through this process, and learning the flow," he said. "And I just love budgets."

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