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Financial Reasons Blamed for Removal of Southwest Health System CEO, Top Administrators

Austin Cope

Cortez-based health provider Southwest Health System (SHS) has fired its CEO and two other members of its leadership team, reportedly for financial reasons. On Friday afternoon, the SHS Board of Directors announced its decision to separate CEO Kent Rogers, Chief Nursing Officer Karen Pasquin, and Chief Ambulatory Services Officer Ken Boucher. The change in leadership was effective immediately.


SHS Board Chair Paul Deshayes told KSJD Monday that the Board’s decision stemmed from complex problems within the organization, including lack of growth and problems with state Medicaid reimbursements. He explained the Board no longer felt the top leadership “would help [the organization] move forward.” New leadership could improve procedures like billing and collections, he said.


The Board has hired consultants to help analyze the financial issues. It has also begun a nationwide search for new leadership. In the meantime, senior medical staff have been placed in charge of its clinic system. An interim CEO will be announced by next week.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.