John Nordwick, the president and CEO of Bozeman Deaconess Health Services, announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of 2011 after 17 years with the organization.

The announcement comes two years after Nordwick first approached the hospital’s board of trustees and informed them he planned to step down. Rather than retiring immediately, Nordwick stayed on board, helped in the search for his replacement and agreed to stay through a reasonable transition period to ensure the candidate met the organization’s expectations, said Terry Cunningham, chair of the Bozeman Deaconess board of trustees.

“This was a somewhat nontraditional approach,” Cunningham said.

Nordwick will remain as CEO and president through the end of the year as additional responsibilities are shifted to Stan Moser, the hospital’s current chief administrative officer, who was announced Wednesday as Nordwick’s successor by the board of trustees.

“One of the things that makes me feel good about retirement is turning the reins over to Stan,” Nordwick said.

And one of the things that makes Moser feel good about taking those reins is the state in which Nordwick will leave the hospital when he steps down Jan. 1, 2012, Moser said.

“The hospital has been extremely well-run the last 17 years,” Moser said. The hospital has had and continues to have a good reputation, he said.

It’s hard to nail down one signature accomplishment over Nordwick’s 17 years, Cunningham said. One is the Hillcrest Retirement Community, which Bozeman Deaconess took over and turned into a first-class facility under Nordwick’s direction, Cunningham said.

Less tangible, but just as impressive an accomplishment, is the quality of the hospital. Cunningham said Bozeman Deaconess compares well against all hospitals in America, not just small rural hospitals, because of policies and hires made at Nordwick’s direction.

Nordwick said retirement is bittersweet. It’s something every worker plans for, but walking away from a job is difficult, he said. Now he looks forward to taking a deep breath and having the mantle of responsibility lifted from his shoulders.

“I’ve got grandchildren, and everybody has that long list of things they want to do and never have the time … (I) hope that retirement will bring those things closer together,” Nordwick, 62, said.

The responsibilities of running the hospital are likely to grow in the next few years as new healthcare regulations come into effect, Cunningham said. The entire healthcare paradigm is set to shift over the next 20 years, from taking care of sick people to keeping people healthy, Cunningham said.

“There’s going to be more coordinated care where the primary care physician is helping the patient quarterback their own care,” Cunningham said.

Doctors are going to become more of a consultant helping patients manage their health rather than fend for themselves, he said. That’s why it was important to hand the hospital over to someone with Moser’s pedigree, Cunningham said.

Moser directed financial and risk management operations for a New York physician group and served as CFO at Billings Clinic, where he worked to develop a service that provides malpractice insurance to more than 20 hospitals across the Northwest, according to a hospital news release. All that experience leaves Moser ideally suited to help navigate the hospital through the shifting waters of healthcare reform, Cunningham said.

The healthcare industry is always going to change, Moser said. But the way Bozeman Deaconess Hospital has been managed over the years makes it easy for Moser to adapt to future challenges, he said.

“I hope the community’s proud of the hospital they have here because they should be. They have a great community hospital,” Moser said.

Jason Bacaj may be reached at jasonb@dailychronicle.com or 582-2635.

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