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Bonner General CEO announces retirement

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | August 16, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Bonner General Health will be saying goodbye to its longtime CEO at the end of the year.

Sheryl Rickard, who has worked at the Sandpoint hospital for 36 years, announced Tuesday that she will be retiring at the end of the year.

“I share this news with mixed emotions. I truly love and cherish BGH, the people I work with, the boards I have served on, and my peers across the state," Rickard said in a press release. "I really can’t think of a more rewarding and meaningful career. However, it’s now time for me to spend more time with my family, travel, and enjoy the next chapter of my life.”

Rickard joined the facility in 1986, when it was known as Bonner General Hospital, as its accounting supervisor. She was promoted to chief financial officer two years later and continued in that role until she assumed the CEO position in 2004.

Bonner General's chief financial officer, John Hennessy, has been tabbed by the BGH Board of Directors to serve as the hospital's CEO after Rickard retires.

“I have every confidence that our fantastic team, under the leadership of John Hennessy, will continue to grow our services and positively impact the health of our community,” Rickard said.

Rickard's guidance is the chief reason for the hospital's expansion of heather offerings, BGH board chairman Ford Elsaesser said, adding that she will be missed. However, the hospital will be in good hands with Hennessy.

“Sheryl will be sorely missed, and her teamwork style of management is truly the main reason for BGH's growth," he said. "The board is confident that John Hennessy will carry on Sheryl’s work and continue to help the entire team to provide superb healthcare.”

Those accomplishments are all the more impressive given the challenges faced by rural hospitals, Elsaesser said. While healthcare systems facing similar challenges have had to shrink capacity, under Rickard the board chairman said BGH has done the opposite and expanded healthcare offerings in the county. Accomplishments under Rickard's action include construction of the Health Services Building, connected to the hospital by the Jack Parker Sky Bridge.

During Rickard's tenure as CEO, Bonner General has become a critical access hospital, and expanded space and services, including the Pinegrove Medical Office and the Health Services buildings, Bonner General Immediate Care, Behavioral Health, Ophthalmology, and Women’s Health clinics.

Also during her time as CEO, the hospital relaunched the BGH Foundation, partnered with Kootenai Health to bring a cancer center to the community, and worked with its foundation to remodel several hospital departments, including a major renovation of its Emergency Department, ultrasound, mammography and CT suites and its trauma radiology department.

BGH has 430 employees, a number which has doubled under Rickard, allowing the hospital to offer more services to a growing community.

Rickard was named BGH Employee of the Year in 1998, served as Idaho Hospital Association board chair in 2016, and received the Idaho Hospital Association Star Garnet Award inn 2022. She serves on the Yellowstone Insurance Exchange board, where she is chair of the Finance Committee; Bonner Partners in Care board, where she serves as treasurer; and Blue Cross of Idaho board, where she serves as Quality Committee chair.

As she readies for her next phase of life, Rickard said she is appreciative of her time at Bonner General and is thankful for the hospital's "exceptional team of talented and devoted people."

"I am filled with gratitude and pride for all that we have accomplished together to enhance and improve the health and well-being of the community," Rickard said. "None of our success could have been possible without the dedication and commitment of our board of directors, senior leadership team, managers, physicians, staff, and volunteers. I want to thank every member of the BGH healthcare team for their contributions and enduring commitment to our patients and their families.”

Bonner General Health is a 25-bed critical access hospital and healthcare network of outpatient clinics in Sandpoint, providing medical care to patients throughout the region.