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Salyer popular choice for Indian River Medical Center

STORY BY MEG LAUGHLIN (Week of April 24, 2014)
Photo: Steve Salyer is the new Chief Operating Officer of Indian River Medical Center.

In the world of the Indian River Medical Center, where there has recently been little agreement about anything, a rare moment of serendipity among stakeholders occurred last week when CEO Jeff Susi announced the hiring of Steve Salyer to be the hospital’s new chief operating officer.

Salyer, already well-known in this area as the highly motivated and well-respected CEO of Sebastian River Medical Center, was interviewed by Indian River hospital leadership, District trustees, independent doctors, hospital doctors and hospital board members, all of whom said they saw him as the top choice for the job.

“I’m thrilled,” said Susi echoing what seemed a unanimous opinion.

Hospital District trustee Burton Lee greeted Salyer at a meeting last week with a heartfelt “Siempre Fi, from one Marine to another,” repeating the short form of the Marine motto “always faithful.”

Board chairman Tom Segura cheered the hire with: “He’ll be a great addition. I’m all smiles.”

Internist Curtis Dalili, who is chief of medicine for the professional organization that represents over 240 doctors in the county, spoke of what a “great success” Salyer was at Sebastian, and “how fortunate” IRMC is to get him.

“I hope the administration and board will give him the support he needs to make the appropriate changes here,” said Dalili.

After serving as CEO of Shands Medical Center in Starke, Florida, Salyer, now 37, became Sebastian CEO and held the job for one year before suddenly resigning last month.

Although the resignation coincided with the final stages of the search for Indian River COO, Salyer was adamant that there was no connection between his leaving Sebastian and taking the IRMC job one month later. 

“From my perspective, taking the new job wasn’t too soon. I left Sebastian over family issues, not to take this job,” Salyer said last week.

His father’s illness and recent death came before his mother was diagnosed with leukemia, he told Vero Beach 32963 a few weeks ago. He added to those details a few days ago, explaining that, along with being there for his mom, he had to sell his parents’ home in Tennessee and move her in with his family here.

“I had no clue where I was going to work. My only intent in leaving Sebastian was to resolve difficult issues with my immediate family,” said Salyer.

 His first goal as COO, he said, is “to get to know the people” at Indian River Medical Center: “This job is all about people. I want to listen to them. I need to win their trust and confidence by supporting them,” he said. 

Susi outlined what the next few weeks will be like for Salyer: “We will report the top-down review (from Alvarez Marsal) to the strategic planning committee, along with an action plan, and then we will get to work. There’s a little time to celebrate, but there are things we need to act on,” said the CEO.

Salyer left a hospital that made millions last year to come to one that lost millions. Sebastian was also given a higher rating than Indian River for patient care from a national hospital rating service. 

But with Salyer filling the Indian River Medical Center position of chief operating officer, everyone has high hopes that finances and services will quickly improve.

“I believe that if we truly care about our patients, everything else will fall in place,” said the new chief operating officer.