Boone County Hospital names Mikaela Kienitz as new CEO

Boone County Hospital has hired Mikaela Kienitz as the hospital’s new CEO. It will begin on January 2, when CEO Joe Smith retires after 30 years of service.

The hospital has partnered with QHR Health, a Tennessee-based hospital management and consulting firm, since 1993. It employs Smith and chief financial officer Joe Devin.

Devin will retire after Kienitz is trained for her new role. Kienitz will be employed by the hospital. BCH uses other services from QHR and will likely continue for some time, she said.

A native of Cedar Falls, Kienitz has served as COO of Compass Memorial Healthcare in Marengo since 2009. She has spent her entire healthcare career there, rising through the ranks.

She began her work there in 2001 as a staff nurse, later becoming Acting Chief Executive Officer, Director of Patient Care Services and Associate Director of Patient Care Services.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2001 from Allen College, followed by a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership in 2005, also from that institute.

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In 2018, she became a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

She said her nursing career forged an ability to connect with people.

“It’s not that a degree is right or wrong, but I think having a clinical background is valuable,” she said. “I can learn the financial side of the job, but not everyone knows how to take care of a patient.”

She noted that while Compass Memorial Healthcare is a smaller facility than BCH, it shares the same barriers — and opportunities — of being a rural hospital near a larger metropolitan area. Compass Memorial Healthcare is near Iowa City.

“I’ve spent a lot of my career skirting around knowing there’s competition on the road,” she said. “I think it’s a good challenge for a rural hospital to be close to other entities.”

BCH faced an influx of transferred COVID-19 patients at the height of the pandemic as Mary Greeley in Ames and Des Moines hospitals reached capacity.

Kienitz said seasonal viruses such as RSV have the potential to again overwhelm urban healthcare facilities that will turn to smaller hospitals for help.

She praised BHC for its financial stability, patient and staff satisfaction scores, and versatility of services, but would like to see more community outreach and additional offerings in the future.

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Maintaining BCH obstetrics services and supporting pregnant women is one of its top priorities.

“Having OB helps you close the loop of caring for patients from birth to end of life. It is important to have these services so that patients remain your patients for life,” she noted.

Also important to Kienitz is increasing mental health services in Boone County, as well as providing more rural health care programs.

“I would like to see the hospital continue to grow. I think they have a very strong base that Joe helped build and great staff,” she said.

Increased community engagement would include staff traveling to schools, as well as partnering with agencies and businesses for community events.

She wants people seeking medical care in Boone County to think of BCH first.

“It’s about maximizing our use of the programs available to us and increasing visibility,” she said. “Community engagement really helps people know who you are and helps you grow your services. I think people will come to rely on the hospital as a community partner in a way that may be different than they see today. The goal is that no patient is a number.

Kienitz has a 20-year-old son named Riley who is a student at the University of Iowa. Her 18-year-old son, Pierce, will graduate from high school in the spring of 2023. She plans to split her time between Marengo and Boone until he graduates. She will then move permanently to Boone in the summer of 2023.

In her spare time, she enjoys biking, kayaking, walking, scrapbooking and spending time with her boxer, Holmes.

“I am thrilled and grateful to have the opportunity to be the next CEO of Boone County Hospital,” she said. “It is an honor to join the team and lead the organization into a very prosperous future by building on the strong foundations that exist today. I look forward to moving to Boone and engaging with the communities and patients we serve.

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