Meet the new Banner Payson Medical Center CEO, Hoyt Skabelund. Fresh from Colorado and replacing Lance Porter, who moved within the Banner System to serve as CEO at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, Wyo.
2020 has been a year of many hats worn by Skabelund. He began the year as CEO of Sterling Regional Med Center in Sterling, Colo., within the Banner System. As he now joins BPMC as CEO, he is coming from the CEO position for Banner's Northern Colorado hospitals, having that role since only February of 2020.
Skabelund joined Banner in 2014 as CEO of Banner Churchill Community hospital and admits that he feels most at home in rural healthcare, having strong roots in rural community life.
"Rural America is the heart of our country, and I want to help preserve it."
Skabelund is proud of his small-town story and demonstrates it with a display of impressive historic slides featuring his childhood hometown of Dutch John, Utah, and the neighboring Flaming Gorge National Park. Looking at the images, it is not hard to see the similarities between his youth's small town and the Payson of the 1960s and 70s. His father worked with the Forest Service in an area also rife with Ponderosa pine and high elevation. The early beginnings of their small community hospital closely mirror Payson's healthcare origin story. Skabelund admits these similarities drew him to the Rim Country area when the opportunity presented itself.
"I'm a small-town guy. All I ever wanted to be is a hospital administrator of a small rural hospital," says Skabelund.
Heading up Payson's 25-bed critical access hospital, now increasingly overwhelmed in the middle of a global pandemic, he will draw upon his more than two decades of healthcare management and administration experience. Skabelund will also seek success using his commitment to a personal relationship building leadership style to help his team weather the uncharted waters ahead.
Now empty nesters, Skabelund and his wife of 29 years, Carmen, find themselves at a unique time in life. Their adult children, son Wayne and daughter Whitney, are now grown and successful, off on their adventures, yet still geographically close enough to visit often. Skabelund is content that the family is nearby, all within the western United States - just a drive or flight away. As for Skabelund, he is secure that he has found a home.
"I have no intention to continue my career outside of Payson. This community is the ideal place for us," he says.
Skabelund sees Payson for its possibilities and as a hotbed of potential, where people travel to get designer healthcare services and procedures in the future. With all the innovation, training programs, the strength of the Banner brand, and talent coming up the educational pipeline, his vision has many people excited for years ahead of healthcare in Payson.
"We have such an opportunity here. Payson is poised for greatness," he emphasizes.
Skabelund tells the story of his grandfather, a quiet dairy farmer who worked at the university's bookstore to subsidize the dairy. The oldest of his grandchildren, Skabelund, describes his grandfather as his hero and mentions that farming might have been the road he had gone down if things went differently. He loved the manual work of the farm. When he got to the age where college was imminent, sitting in a 1969 yellow Chevy truck full of alfalfa leaves and manure, Skabelund asked his grandfather if he should go to college. He would have trusted the answer if he was told it was not of value, and he should be a farmer instead. In response, his grandfather said (perhaps because he didn't want his daughter, Skabelund's mother, to kill him), "Get all the education you can. But if you ever forget how to use a shovel, you ain't worth a (you know what) to me, boy."
Skabelund comes to Payson with far away yet somehow familiar stories of his past and impressive future visions. Still, it seems the most influential leaders are perhaps the collectors of memories, the ones who remember to tell their stories to others, so the lessons of the past continue to teach generations beyond themselves.