St. John's CEO resigns after 6 months

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The CEO of St. John’s Health tendered his resignation and received a massive payout just after six months on the job and three months after withdrawing St. John’s from consideration for the Sublette County Hospital District’s management partner.

Will Wagnon has left St. John’s with a $1-million severance payout because of a “good cause” resignation clause in his contract, the Jackson Hole News&Guide reported recently.

Wagnon arrived in Jackson after serving at Henrico, Parham and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital in Virginia – which he left the day after alerting staff of his departure, according to a report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Because that hospital is ran by a private company it is afforded more confidentiality, saying only Wagnon left to spend more time with family.

St. John’s Health, a public entity, has not given reason for Wagnon’s departure but provided the News&Guide with a schedule of his final weeks. That showed little time spent in meetings or even in the office.

St. John’s Health attorney Tom Lubnau – who was briefly the Sublette County Hospital District’s first counsel – confirmed to the News&Guide that Wagnon was paid in full for a final week that included just two meetings.

In March, roughly three months after Wagnon started his training as CEO of St. John’s, he submitted a letter of withdrawal on behalf of St. John’s as potential management partner with Sublette County Hospital District.

In his letter, Wagnon express gratitude in meeting those in Sublette County who also value quality health care while maintaining a relationship between Teton and Sublette counties.

“After careful reflection on current priorities and circumstances, I’ve concluded the timing is unfavorable for St. John’s Health to dedicate the resources necessary to be your hospital management partner,” he wrote. “St. John’s has several important projects on the short-term horizon, including the openings this summer of our new Sage Living community and inpatient physical rehabilitation facility.

“With the added strain on staff and resources created by the pandemic, I have decided to focus St. John’s resources on our current top initiatives.”

Hospital District board chair Tonia Hoffman shared that letter with the Examiner when she received it and said she received several reasons why St. John’s withdrew, as previous reported in the Examiner.

Wagnon, along with former St. John’s Health CEO Paul Beaupre, M.D., met with the hospital district and members of the public during the interview process for management partner.

The hospital district ultimately carried on with its interview process and chose Star Valley Health as its management partner.

Wagnon’s departure, and massive payout, came as the nurses of St. John’s entered their second year of freezes on potential raises.