Lowell Johnson wanted to be a doctor. After getting a “C” in chemistry at the University of Minnesota he was told to find another career. Today, instead of providing medical care to people, Johnson treats hospital and healthcare systems.
“I have the best job in the world,” said Johnson, the interim CEO at Evergreen. “I’m a doctor for hospital systems and get to be close to people I respect most – physicians.”
His prescription for Evergreen: “Keep it moving forward.”
“I’m not here to make changes,” Johnson said. “Evergreen truly is in the top 5 percent of hospitals in the United States. There are 3,300 fabulous employees, great doctors, a wonderful plant and good governance. I’m here to keep things moving until Steve’s replacement is aboard.”
Johnson, a management consultant with degrees in economics, finance and commerce, has held 27 interim executive positions in the last 21 years. The best assignments are the Evergreen variety: Following a highly successful CEO who has gotten a well-earned promotion. The second type challenges his people skills. That’s when the relationships between the CEO, Medical Staff, and/or Board have become strained to the point that the CEO must be replaced.
The worst assignments are hospitals experiencing financial distress. Some of those, Johnson said, can’t be revived. His last assignment was at a New York City hospital in an economically depressed area. Because of poor insurance contracts, the economic downturn and inability of New York state government to provide support, the hospital likely will go bankrupt.
Johnson serves on the board of Bethesda Lutheran Communities, a national organization that provides housing and services to developmentally disabled people. He and his wife have two adult daughters and two 10-year-old cats.
“When I went to New York City for my last assignment, we adopted two cats from MEOW in Kirkland,” he said. “Because I was gone so much, they think my side of the bed belongs to them.”