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MedWest-Haywood new CEO started as a nurse

Janie Sinacore-Jaberg will become the new CEO of MedWest-Haywood in December.

She is currently the Chief Operating Officer of a 320-bed system in Muskogee, Okla. She has served as the COO and CEO of several hospitals in Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio.

Former CEO Mike Poore left in March after three years at MedWest-Haywood and took a new job at a hospital in Texas. Poore was credited with leading the hospital on a successful rebound after a run-in with federal inspectors in 2008 prompted a temporary shut down. Poore oversaw the creation of the MedWest partnership with the neighboring hospitals in Jackson and Swain counties, helped bring several private physician practices in-house and set the stage for a new urgent care center, hospice center and surgery center.

But Poore left just as internal struggles with the MedWest partnership and financial shortfalls were coming to a head. 

The challenges confronting MedWest-Haywood didn’t deter would-be CEOs — including Sincore-Jaberg — from applying for the job.

“She likes a challenge and likes to turn things around. She has had a lot of experience helping organizations move from one level to another, so there are people that look for those challenges in their careers,” said John Young, a vice president of Carolinas HealthCare System, which manages MedWest.

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But one reason Med-West Haywood appealed to Sinacore-Jaberg has nothing to do with the job. The mountains are beautiful and great place to live, Young said.

“You are blessed because people want to be here,” Young said. Sinacore-Jaberg started out as an operating room nurse. Most hospital CEOs these days come from business backgrounds, with degrees solely in hospital administration rather than medicine.

“She has seen health care at the ground level,” Young said.

She also holds a master’s degree in business and healthcare administration, however, as well as nursing. Her resume includes overseeing construction of a new $150-million hospital, leading organizational transitions and improving patient satisfaction scores.

The hospital board that oversees MedWest-Haywood has not formally voted to offer Sinacore-Jaberg the job. That vote seems certain, however — so certain that Young broke the news of the incoming CEO during his quarterly “state of the hospital” report to Haywood County commissioners this week.

Technically, the local hospital board doesn’t have the final say over their own CEO. Its vote endorsing Sinacore-Jaberg will be more of a rubber stamp. The CEO hiring decision is ultimately up to Carolinas HealthCare System. In fact the CEO of MedWest-Haywood is considered an employee of Carolinas and ultimately answers to Carolinas.

Sinacore-Jayberg will have no shortage of bosses, however, and will also answer to the board of Med-West Haywood, which pays her salary, and must also interface regularly with the umbrella MedWest board.

But local hospital leaders and doctors were a part of the hiring process. An employment search firm brought five candidates to the table for vetting locally. Three names were sent on to Carolinas HealthCare to pick from, but Sinacre-Jaberg was flagged as the top pick. Carolinas agreed.

“She was our first choice and the selection group’s first choice,” Young said.

She was brought back for a second interview, including a vetting before a panel of several doctors, and passed with flying colors, Young said.

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