HOSPITAL HAS NEW CEO

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Brooke Kensinger, left, has been hired to succeed Fran Zichal as the CEO at Central Community Hospital.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

When Fran Zichal ends her nearly 40-year career at Central Community Hospital on December 31, she’ll walk away from her job knowing that she’s left it in good hands. Her successor, Brooke Kensinger, has the experience, drive and enthusiasm to continue the great work Fran started in 1978.

A Marion High School graduate who also lived in Newton and Winterset, Brooke has been in healthcare since her undergraduate days. She worked as a home health aide while completing her business management degree at the University of Iowa. She also earned a graduate degree there in healthcare administration. In addition, her resume includes an internship with the Long Island Jewish Health System and a fellowship with a large teaching hospital in suburban Chicago. Ironically, Brooke’s fellowship was at the same facility where Dr. Ken Zichal years earlier completed his residency. 

Brooke followed up her education and training with a long stint in healthcare in Cedar Rapids that included creating partnerships between health providers and businesses as well as establishing new clinics.

“When I heard about this position, I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’m pretty happy here but let me check this out,’” Brooke said, adding that a real attraction of the job was the chance to get into a hospital setting.

“In 2008, Cedar Rapids was hit with a terrible flood and we were entering a recession,” Brooke said. “There was a hiring freeze at many hospitals so a clinic setting was the best option for me at that time. I truly enjoyed that work but I’m looking forward to being involved in many aspects of healthcare, which this position provides.”

“We have a tremendous opportunity with Brooke,” said Fran. “She has a background in many aspects of healthcare that many people my age don’t have. Obviously, there will be some changes but that needs to happen to keep us competitive.”

Brooke will continue to live near Marion where her two young children attend elementary school. Her husband, Jesse, works in the software industry. Her in-laws live nearby; their proximity and support is one reason she was able to accept a job in Elkader.

Despite her commuter status, Brooke intends to immerse herself and her family in the community. “I may not live here but that won’t stop me from becoming part of the community,” she said. “This is a great place for us to be involved.”

Brooke readily admits she has big shoes to fill. Fran started at the hospital in 1978 as a Lamaze instructor and later, a recovery room nurse. She launched the hospital’s find-raising arm in 1989. She held her current position since 1999.

“Some people in the community are wondering how the hospital will work without Fran and Ken,” Brooke admitted. “”One of my first goals is getting to know everyone and earning their trust that I can do this job. Rural hospitals face significant challenges over the next five years but I’m determined that we will find our niche and do well in it.”

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