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Hofius back as Perham hospital administrator

The allure of Perham, with its motto "live, work and play" in the East Otter Tail lake country, was clearly a factor when Perham hospital administrator Chuck Hofius accepted a position in the Twin Cities-only to return "home" to Perham within two weeks.

Chuck Hofius returned to Perham Memorial Hospital and Home (PMHH) as CEO effective Monday, Feb. 8. Hofius had recently resigned from the position after 12 years to take a job with Volunteers of America.

"From the first minute I was there, all I could think about was the Perham hospital building project," said Hofius, who was the driving force behind the $34 million new hospital, which broke ground last fall. "My heart just wasn't there...I just had to go back to Perham,"

His first day as an executive with the aging services operation in the suburbs was Monday Jan. 25. By Jan.28, he made his mind up.

"The hardest day of my career was leaving Perham," said Hofius. His last day was in mid-January. "The second hardest day of my career was to go to the offices at Volunteers of America and tell them I was leaving.

Hofius indicated that in the time leading up to his departure last month, and in his brief time away, he had spent considerable time reflecting on what PMHH meant to him and what remained to be accomplished.

"This is an exciting time for PMHH with many challenges," explained Hofius. "I realized that everything I was looking for in my career, I already had. I needed to return."

The PMHH Board of Trustees and representatives from Sanford MeritCare met Feb. 4, to discuss Hofius' request to return. Because the CEO is an employee of Sanford MeritCare, Doug Vang, president, MeritCare Health Network, made the recommendation to the local board to reinstate Hofius as CEO.

"Our Board was unanimous in its decision to reinstate Chuck, confident his leadership is in the best interest of the hospital and home," stated Kathy Hemmelgarn, PMHH Board of Trustees Chair.

"To be honest, I got caught up on the flattery of being recruited for this new job and being told how much my skills were needed.  I was intrigued with living in a big city, which is something I've never done. But I quickly realized that none of that mattered as much as the strong relationships I have developed at PMHH and in the community," wrote Hofius in a letter.

In an interview, Hofius said he felt "bad about the roller coaster I put the community through...I may have some relationships I need to mend in Perham," he added.

There were critics in the community who took issue about Hofius leaving PMHH-particularly with the big hospital project underway.

Already on Feb. 5, Hofius held a meeting with department heads. On Monday of this week, Hofius was scheduled to meet with employees. He expected attendance by at least half of the hospital and clinic staff-about 200,

Several members of the board and community have come up and told me that the same thing happened in their careers," said Hofius. "They accepted a position elsewhere, but realized it was a mistake and came back."