UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center CEO Frank May announces retirement

UC Health Yampa Valley Medical Center CEO Frank May announced his retirement on Tuesday after 20 years with the hospital. His last day is Dec. 31. (File photo by Matt Stensland)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Frank May announced on Tuesday his retirement as chief executive officer of UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.

May spent the past 20 years of his career with the hospital, serving as chief operating officer, chief financial officer, compliance officer, interim CEO and finally CEO for the last eight years.

May, whose last day will be Dec. 31, said he has been planning his retirement for several months. The decision is based on wanting to spend more time with family, May said. He’s looking forward to disconnecting from an all-consuming job, and “being fully engaged with my family.”

Born and raised in Pueblo, May and his wife of 38 years have spent their entire life in Colorado.

Their two children, now 32 and 30, started middle school in Steamboat Springs, where May said they thrived with opportunities to ride horses and play sports. They are both now living on the Front Range, where May said he and his wife plan to move.

Looking ahead, the YVMC board of trustees will work with Kevin Unger, president and CEO of UCHealth’s northern Colorado region, to conduct a national search for a new CEO.

In the meantime, YVMC Chief Operating Officer Soniya Fidler will serve as interim president, and Dr. Tom Downes, chief medical officer for Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, will serve as interim CEO.

When asked about May’s retirement benefits, UCHealth officials said they don’t “provide compensation information publicly.”

Unger said May’s legacy rests in his dedication to high quality care and patient experience and a focus on doing what is right for the patient. He praised May’s vision and drive to encourage “people to do better and better and better.”

“He does what he says he’s going to do,” Unger said. “And is honest as the day is long.”

Unger also pointed to numerous awards the Steamboat hospital earned during May’s tenure, including several recognizing YVMC as a top 100 community hospital in the nation.

“It’s about people,” May said. “We have such high quality people doing outstanding work.”

Moving to Steamboat in 1998 from a much bigger hospital in Denver, May said he enjoyed the opportunity to be part of a more intimate organization and develop personal relationships.

He began just as the hospital was transitioning to its new location. He described the move as “a tremendous opportunity to increase the level of health care provided to the community.”

Part of his role has been doing whatever needed to be done, and at one point, that involved jackhammering the floor amid a sewer problem.

Of the changes in health care he’s seen over the past two decades, May said it’s harder than it was 20 years ago. He said technology has advanced but that has also added complexity, and there’s been an increase in regulatory burdens.

Under May’s tenure as CEO, the hospital added the Gloria Gossard Breast Health Center to its campus in 2016 and opened the Jan Bishop Cancer Center in 2017. In September of 2017, YVMC joined the UCHealth system.

The merger has not been without controversy.

May’s retirement announcement comes exactly one week after a town hall meeting during which May acknowledged continuing challenges, saying, “I’m not going to tell you everything is rosy and great.”

But May said he stands by the decision to sell the hospital to UCHealth.

While the meeting was contentious, May said none of the issues brought up at the town hall factored into his decision to retire.

Rather, he said he is torn.

“There are so many great things happening in the future, and the relationship with UCHealth is exactly what we needed to do,” May said.

Unger said he remains committed to community collaboration while leveraging the strength of the UCHealth system, which he said provides resources the hospital would otherwise not be able access.

Unger predicts a coming “disruption” in the health care industry and stressed the importance of making sure patients are being taken care of in a way that is effective and efficient.

“I’m very happy for Frank,” said Rich Lowe, chairman of the YVMC board of trustees. “He’s put in a ton of work over the years, and particularly the past couple, as we moved on the pathway to this merger.”

Over Lowe’s eight years working with May, he commended him for his commitment to patient quality and safety, which Lowe said are “as good as any in the country.”

Lowe said May’s expertise helped bring a broader perspective to the board regarding the future of health care.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @KariHarden.

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