New hospital COO to start Monday


Staff Writer

Kyle Kellum, newly hired chief operating officer (COO) for the Upper San Juan Health Service District, will take to his position for the first time this Monday, June 9.

Kellum, his wife and two children will be joining the Pagosa community this month from Grangeville, Idaho. Previously serving as the chief performance officer of Syringa Hospital and Clinics in Grangeville, the new COO will bring with him a variety of skills including healthcare administration (in which he holds a master’s degree), improving patient safety, teamwork building among professionals and more.

Kellum told The SUN in a phone interview that the main thing that attracted him to Pagosa’s hospital district was the fact that “its a proactive and progressive organization.”

The new COO was particularly impressed with the hospital’s orthopedics department and the amount of “very qualified doctors and specialists coming in.”

Offering such progressive and highly specialized medicine is what will help sustain the hospital district as a key community entity in the future, Kellum explained.

The professional also stated that he is looking forward to joining the administrative staff, saying, “Being on the outside looking in, [the district] has very good leadership.”

Brad Cochennet, district CEO, is also eager for Kellum to join the hospital’s team.

“Kyle has the energy and experience to lead Pagosa Springs Medical Center to our next levels of ‘better’,” the CEO told The SUN in an email. “He’s proven himself as [an]outstanding leader in performance improvement, something crucial for our operations as we experience an unusual growth phase.”

Cochennet also stated that, “We’re looking forward to Kyle’s leadership in bringing best practices to the way we align care services with finance, HR, facilities, and other departments.”

Providing another level of organization and helping to improve the overall patient experience for all parties involved, including patient relatives, are two of the things Kellum said he is most looking forward to.

“I’m a big customer service guy,” Kellum told SUN staff. “I’m after the best patient experience possible.”

The new COO stated that he is excited to offer all he can to the district — even if that is just a different perspective to begin with.

“I really like the fact that [the district] is open to different ideas,” Kellum said.

When Cochennet was asked what the district is excited for Kellum to bring, the CEO responded, “Kyle has an exceptional ability to ‘operationalize’ a strategic vision and plan. Excuse the jargon. (And he’s going to make our softball team unbeatable.)”

Cochennet’s answer highlights not only Kellum’s professional experience, but also the new COO’s deep-rooted love of sports.

In Idaho, Kellum coached high school basketball and baseball and was also president of the youth baseball league.

“My family and I really enjoy the outdoors,” the COO said, “and we are big sports people. We like pretty much every sport there is.”

Kellum and his family intend to jump right into an active Pagosa lifestyle, hoping to become involved in sports and other activities as soon as they can.

“Whatever we can do to get out and meet people,” he said.

The COO said his family is just as excited about the move as he is. Pagosa’s rural lifestyle, similar to that of Grangeville, was another reason the family was attracted to the area — especially with all of Pagosa’s great opportunities to get outdoors.

“We just want to get out there and get involved,” the COO stated. “What will determine our success here is how much we can help out; and the more we can involve the kids the better time they’re going to have.”

When asked if he was nervous about anything, coming into the Pagosa community or into his new position, Kellum said, “As with anything new, it’s leaving something comfortable and going into something uncomfortable. But I’m not nervous. I have nothing to be nervous about.”

The hospital district will welcome Kellum into his new position Monday morning. While much of his first week, or even month, will entail getting used to the district and determining what his future role will be, Kellum said he is nothing but excited.