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Hospitals in Kalispell and Polson are gaining new executives.

On Thursday, Kalispell Regional Medical Center announced that it had selected Craig Lambrecht as its new head. Lambrecht, an emergency medicine physician, has previously held several positions at hospitals in North Dakota, most recently as president of Sanford Health West.

In a press release, Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) Board of Trustees Chair Dennis Sabo stated that "we are thrilled that Dr. Lambrecht has chosen to join the KRH team. … Dr. Lambrecht has the right mix of skills and experience to compassionately lead our organization out of a difficult time and into a bright future."

Earlier this year, a former employee sued the hospital, alleging a kickback-referral scheme involving its doctors. Kalispell Regional Healthcare has denied any wrongdoing, but settled for an undisclosed amount. The hospital has also seen several high-profile departures and a loss of $6.6 million in revenue due to a drop in the state Medicaid reimbursement rate. 

"While the organization has seen some challenges over the past couple of years, I'm confident that KRH is positioned for a healthy future," a press release quoted Lambrecht as saying. "I'm committed to working with the Board, Executive Team, medical staff and employees to fulfill our mission to the level our patients and families expect and deserve."

In North Dakota, Lambrecht led Medcenter One through its merger with Sanford in 2012. Since then, the hospital system has increased providers by 77 percent, expanded care and outreach in numerous communities in central and western North Dakota and developed strong community partnerships.

“My time at Sanford has been both exciting and rewarding,” Lambrecht said. “Health care is such a vital part of a community. As a leader, my goal has always been to provide quality patient care and access to central and western North Dakota and Sanford’s commitment to our region has far exceeded my expectations.”

He will officially begin this position in early February.

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Also on Thursday, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson announced that it had hired Devin Huntley as its new chief operating officer. Originally from Missoula, Huntley spent 15 years working on business and administrative matters at Community Medical Center, and most recently served as a board member at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains.  

In a press release, Huntley said he was "humbled and honored to lead the incredible team of physicians and caregivers at St. Joe's. Providing exceptional health care in a rural community comes with many opportunities and challenges. Together, we are up to the task."

The Bismarck Tribune contributed to this story.

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