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From janitor to CEO

Hannah Gross, NLJ Correspondent

After an up-and-down search for a new hospital CEO, Weston County Health Services has decided to hire Randy Lindauer, who has 46 years of experience in healthcare and nearly as much time in administration. 
After looking for an opportunity to move to Wyoming for 15 years, Lindauer said this position was an answer to his prayers. 
“I think God puts us in the right position at the right time when he wants us to be where he wants us to be,” he said, adding that God is always first, then family and work. “It was the right-sized hospital, the right-sized town. … My prayers were answered.”
With ancestral roots in the Lander area, Lindauer has wanted to plant  his own roots in the Montana or Wyoming area, so after an internet search for job openings, the Weston County position came up. He submitted his resume and interviewed until the list of applicants was narrowed to him and former CEO Judd Dawson, who was ultimately selected to fill the position. 
“I respected that, and I just continued to pray and pray,” Lindauer said. 
Six months later, he received a call for another interview. He flew in a few days early to get “a taste for the town” — quite literally. He tried many of Newcastle’s restaurants, and he liked what he found — both in the food and in the people. 
“I think you have a great community, I think you have a safe community, and I know you have great places to eat because I’ve almost eaten at every one of them,” Lindauer said. “The people I’ve met have been so kind and open. I know it’s the right place.”
“He has been engaging and very friendly with the staff and community since he arrived,” said Dorothy Briggs, WCHS Board President. “We’re grateful to have his expertise at WCHS.” 
Lindauer’s primary focus as CEO is to make health care accessible to all patients, not just in Weston County but in the surrounding areas. 
“It is our due diligence to make sure that every person has access to health care and quality health care,” he said. “I will fight for rural health care in the rural areas for as long as I can for as long as I live.” 
Lindauer is working with Dawson and the WCHS leadership team in what he considers a positive transition process and is looking forward to working with the staff and residents.
“The transition couldn’t have been any better. Judd was available to onboard him and is still available for a few weeks for any questions. He started right in and hasn’t taken any break,” Briggs said. 
“I think we have a great board, I really do,” he said. “Weston County is blessed to have a facility like this.”
According to Lindauer, the board collaborates well, but something that needs to be addressed is education, which he said is an ongoing process to “stay up with the ever-changing needs of health care.” He wants to increase education in all areas from housekeeping and nursing to boards and physicians. He also hopes to conduct a policy review and add new service lines.
“If you don’t have ongoing education, you can’t grow,” Lindauer said.
Although the financial situation of the hospital has been a concern for quite some time, Lindauer said he is optimistic. The financial situation at WCHS is not even comparable with some of the deficits of nearby larger facilities, he said, and he wants to collaborate with all staff members to find a successful plan. 
“You wouldn’t believe the ideas that some housekeepers have come up with,” he said. “I really foresee us in the near future to be in great shape from a financial standpoint.”
“I look forward to hearing a full report from Randy at the upcoming board meeting on his transition and how much progress has been made in the Board’s request for accurate financial reports that will allow us to make good decisions for the people of Weston County,” hospital board trustee Kari Drost said.
Although he’s now the CEO, Lindauer started out as a hospital janitor, called “porter” at the time, in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1976. Because of that, he respects “every individual in a health care organization.” 
“Just because I have the title of the CEO does not make me any better than the janitor stripping the floors because I used to strip the floors and seal them and wax them. … If they need help plunging a toilet, I will plunge a toilet,” Lindauer said. “CEO to me is just a title. I’m willing to get out there, do the job and get the job done.”
Two years after his janitorial position, he transitioned to the maintenance department while attending college. In 1982, he became a safety director and served in various director positions until 2000 when Mayo Clinic Florida had an opening. 
Doubting he had much of a chance, Lindauer threw his name into the hat anyway. He became the director of facilities and operations, and within a year he assisted the hospital in becoming  accredited. By 2005, he was interning with the American College of Health Executives in Pennsylvania as the chief operating officer. 
Lindauer held his first CEO title at St. Vincent Hospital until an interesting opportunity opened up for him to serve as the chief operating officer for a hospital in Qatar. During his two years there, he accomplished the goals set for him to be joint commissions accredited and fill various administration positions. He said it was a great experience and he was “treated like a king,” living in a $3.5 million home with a 24/7 maid and driver. 
After returning to his family and to the U.S., Lindauer said, a hospital in the middle of bankruptcy in West Virginia called him to see if he could get them turned around, and that’s just what he did. From that point on, he worked at various hospitals across the country, including one in Texas. Due to legal issues at that hospital, he was ready to move on, and that’s when the opportunity in Wyoming came along. 
“I feel very excited, very anxious and very proud to be part of Weston County Health Services, but also, looking to the future, to become part of the community,” he said. 
Lindauer said he is grateful to join the Newcastle community and is looking forward to having his wife, Debbie, and their three daughters join him soon to start a life here together. 
“When you make successes, you do it as a team; you don’t do it as an individual,” Lindauer said.


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