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Published on March 16, 2017

Danni Gearhart CEO

Rural healthcare, experience drive new Gundersen St. Joseph's CEO, Danni Gearhart

For Danni Gearhart, ripples matter.

"When you throw a pebble into a pond, the ripples touch everything," the new chief executive officer at Gundersen St. Joseph's Hospital and Clinics says. "It's my responsibility to make sure the ripples we make as an organization have a positive impact on patients, on our staff and on the communities we serve."

The Oelwein, Iowa, native begins her new role April 10, but she already has her sights set on the positive ripples before her at Gundersen St. Joseph's.

"We and other critical access hospitals have the challenge of redefining who we are for covering patients and providing care," the self-described "hands-on leader" says. "I've worked at several ‘turnaround' hospitals, in terms of finances and community impact, and I can relate to Gundersen St. Joseph's similar journey. We will continue to remain diligent and continue to grow while we move toward building a new hospital. I'm excited for the challenge."

She replaces Garith Steiner, who served as interim CEO following Deb Smith's retirement in 2016.

Gearhart is no stranger to rural healthcare leadership. She comes to Gundersen from Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, where she was CEO. She was also interim CEO at Seiling Community Hospital in Seiling, Oklahoma; CEO at Buchanan County Health Center in Independence, Iowa; and CEO at Memorial Health Center in Sidney, Nebraska. Danni's experience also includes significant work in finance, human resources, compliance, quality assurance, and community outreach and fundraising.

"Danni's experience leading hospitals is impressive and her enthusiasm about joining the extraordinary team at Gundersen St. Joseph's is palpable," says Kathy Klock, RN, senior vice president, Gundersen Health System. "We welcome Danni to our leadership team, and we are confident she will be a great addition to our continuing commitment to care close to home and enriching every life we touch."

Gearhart was also drawn to western and southwestern Wisconsin for the opportunities it gives her young family.

"My husband, Mike, and I have two children, Sophia (6) and Forrest (5), and we wanted to raise them in a smaller community," Gearhart says. "Hillsboro is a great fit for us. We're excited to become part of the community."

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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