The search for a new CEO is back on at Whole Family Health Center.
The clinic’s first choice for the post, which had been announced to board members and staff, was nixed after he was found to be the target of an active investigation by the West Virginia State Police for possible embezzlement.
Brian Crist, who in March resigned his post as CEO with Lincoln Primary Care Center, a 16,000-patient low-cost health system in southeast West Virginia, told Whole Family officials about the investigation during the interview process, minimizing its significance.
But he did not make clear the investigation was still open, according to Whole Family board chairman Stephan Trooboff.
That news, reported last week by Vero Beach 32963, caused the board to rescind its job offer to Crist, who had been scheduled to start July 30.
In resuming its search, Whole Family Health is hoping to find a leader with experience in managing a federally qualified health center. FQHCs receive sizeable federal grants. Here in Indian River County, Treasure Coast Community Health is an FQHC.
Last fall, for the first time, Whole Family Health received its own designation as a FQHC Look-alike, a notch below full FQHC; it is not eligible for federal grants but gets other benefits from the designation.
“The FQHC world is relatively small,” said Trooboff last week. “Many of the community health centers vary widely in the way they work, so finding someone that will fit into our community, our practice and with our staff, is paramount.”
Whole Family Health Center, founded by Dr. Gerald Pierone as an AIDS clinic in 1995, has grown to serve some 4,000 patients at its two facilities. With the Indian River Health Department having cut back on adult primary care, Whole Family has become a significant source of affordable healthcare in Vero Beach, offering adult primary, pediatric, mental health, dental and orthopedic care.
Unlike the larger Treasure Coast Community Health, Whole Family does not currently receive Hospital District funding.
District Executive Director Ann Marie Suriano said that’s because Whole Family has never applied for its help.
“I am certain the District would consider reimbursement on the same basis as others who apply,” she said.