Florence Spyrow out as CEO of Northern Arizona Healthcare

Northern Arizona Healthcare announced today, Friday, Aug. 12, a change in NAH leadership, according to a press release. Florence “Flo” Spyrow has “stepped down as the system president and chief executive officer.”

Following this decision, Josh Tinkle, NAH Chief Operating Officer, has been named acting CEO by the NAH Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“We are grateful for the many years of service to the system and wish Flo all the best in the coming years,” Bill Riley, chairman of the NAH Board of Directors, stated in a press release.

“I am proud of NAH’s many accomplishments during my tenure,” Spyrow reportedly stated in the press release.

Tinkle has been with NAH since 2019 and he previously served as acting CEO during Spyrow’s family leave in the late 2021
and early 2022.

NAH will launch a national search for an individual to fill the role of CEO permanently.

“We will find the right candidate in the next six to nine months,” Riley stated. “We will be forming a hiring task force comprising NAH board members to reach out to the communities we serve, including our health care providers and key stakeholders, to solicit their input on qualifications for our next CEO.”

“We are privileged to serve northern Arizona communities and remain grateful to our patients who have entrusted us with
their care. We are confident that Josh will help NAH move forward successfully during this transition,” Riley stated.

Worries About Sedona Emergency Room

In 2020, as Northern Arizona Healthcare CEO, Spyrow suggested that the hospital network would be limiting the services offered at its Sedona Emergency Department.

“As part of this continual analysis, Northern Arizona Healthcare is also assessing whether the Sedona ED is truly providing the right level of care at the right cost to residents,” Spyrow wrote in her letter dated May 22, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing some residents to fear that the Emergency Department would be ending many of its medical services in Sedona.

On a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday June 4, 2020, NAH administrators sought to clarify the hospital system’s plans for Sedona, though they stressed that NAH is still in the analysis phase and has not developed a full concrete plan of what will happen in the area.

“One of the things that we are doing is taking a look to see if we are providing the right care, at the right time, at the right cost, in the right outcome for the residents of Sedona,” Verde Valley Medical Center Chief Administrative Officer Ron Haase said. “Contrary to what has been in various publications, we have no interest and we do not intend to leave Sedona.

“We have been in the Sedona market for 26 years and we intend to continue to serve the health care needs of Sedona communities, and to partner with you in achieving the optimal health and wellness of all community members,” Spyrow said on the press call . “We are, as Ron says, looking at how the community is utilizing our services and what services they’re requesting that be added or expanded there, and so we’re currently evaluating that in order to continue to meet the healthcare needs of the Sedona community.”

Five Year Pledge

Northern Arizona Healthcare wrote in a press release Oct. 15, 2020, that it would be making no major changes to is Sedona facility for at least the next five years.

“There are no anticipated changes,” NAH Chief of Strategy Jannienne Jones-Verse said on a video call with Larson Newspapers on Oct. 16, 2020. “We can’t predict the future, [but] as we look at what we’re able to provide and the services that we offer today, barring circumstances we can’t think of, yes, we’re going to continue operating the emergency department at the level that we are today. We are not anticipating changes.”

“Qualified staffing, diagnostics, treatment, transport services and coordination of your care with other NAH entities will continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” on Oct. 16, 2020, press release reads. “As you have been pleased with the service at the Sedona Emergency Department, we will continue to employ physicians in this Sedona ED.”

Flagstaff Expands While Verde Valley Faces Fears

Since 2020 and despite the five-year pledge, Verde Valley residents have repeatedly written letters to the editor worried that Northern Arizona Healthcare would close Verde Valley Medical Center or downgrade the Sedona Emergency Room to an urgent care facility.

“VVMC is not closing its facility, we want to make sure the community is aware of that,” a spokesperson stated on July 27, 2022.

Despite these feats, NAH is planning a 22-acre, $850-million “Health and Wellness Village featuring hospital-based health care, outpatient surgery, imaging, rehabilitation and clinic spaces all on one site …. The future development will serve as a community gathering spot with amenities including new housing, dining, retail, grocery, lodging and a 22-acre natural retreat with trails integrated with Flagstaff’s existing trail system.”

The new facility would replace Flagstaff Medical Center, a Level I trauma center founded in 1936 and donated to the Flagstaff Community in 1955. While the new facilities would be built four miles south of FMC and thus slightly closer to the Verde Valley, they would still be 27 miles away, up Oak Creek Canyon.

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