Karl Sundberg is the new CEO of South Lincoln Medical Center. Sundberg was an Air Force medic and has extensive experience in health care administration in Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)
Karl Sundberg is the new CEO of South Lincoln Medical Center.
Sundberg has extensive experience in health care administration.He was a medic in the Air Force for six years.
“That experience really gave me the foundation of putting the patient first in everything we do,” Sundberg said.
Sundberg said working in clinical care as a medic to start his career gave him a different perspective regarding health care than if he would have gone straight into administration.
“I always wanted to be in healthcare,” Sundberg said. “I really became interested when the doctor my mom was working for let me watch him perform a surgery when I was in junior high.”
The Rexburg, Idaho, native served as VP of Operations with Advanced Physician Solutions in Florence, Alabama; Director of Operations at ABQ Health Partners in Albuquerque; and Director of Ambulatory Services with Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
In Phoenix, Sundberg led five of the pediatric subspecialties in his care to achieving “Best Hospital” recognition from U.S. News.
“Challenges to healthcare are pretty much the same globally,” Sundberg said. “We have tighter reimbursements and increasing regulation, which is hard, but I think it makes us focus on quality.”
Sundberg started his college career at Arizona State University, and then after his Air Force service, finished his bachelor’s and master’s degrees online in international business and healthcare management.
Most recently Sundberg was the COO of Nevada Health Centers, where he developed and oversaw 18 health centers and seven WIC centers statewide.
Sundberg discussed the unique challenges that a small and rural health care system faces, as opposed to the large systems he has worked with previously.
“Not all things that work in big systems apply here,” Sundberg said. “It’s really about tailoring our care and strategies to this community.”
The South Lincoln Hospital District Board of Trustees agreed that Sundberg’s administration roles make him an ideal leader and financial steward of the health care system.Sundberg fills the vacancy left by Ken Archer, who resigned in July.
“I think working in larger health care systems has given me more tools in my toolbelt,” Sundberg said. “Now I can use those tools and adapt them for a smaller community.”
Sundberg described his role in the SLMC system.
“For the administration in general, we help providers and staff take better care of patients every single day,” Sundberg said. “There’s two jobs in healthcare: taking care of patients, and taking care of those who take care of patients.”
Sundberg said the small, close-knit community of Kemmerer was a big plus to taking on the job.
“My wife and I wanted to come back to a rural community,” Sundberg said. “It has always been my goal throughout my career to learn all that I can so that I know enough to engage in a smaller community and become part of something bigger than just my job.”
Sundberg and his wife Cathy have three children. Their oldest daughter attends Arizona State University. Their second daughter is a senior in high school and will attend Texas A&M after graduating high school. The couple’s youngest child is 14 years old and will be a freshman at KJSHS in the fall.
In his free time, Sundberg likes to garden, restore cars, hunt, camp, fish and spend time with his family and friends.
Sundberg said his focus for the hospital system will likely change over time as he gets to know the staff and the health care needs of the community.
“I think it would be arrogant of me to come in here with a perfectly clear vision of what we need the hospital to be,” Sundberg said. “It takes time to understand what the hospital and the community will need.”
Sundberg said he is looking forward to meeting with County Commissioners and local community representatives to discuss what they have heard from their constituents about health care in the community.