News_ThreeRivers-pBy Ann McCreary

Three Rivers Hospital commissioners have selected Scott Graham, who is currently chief executive officer of Coulee Medical Center, as the new CEO of the district hospital in Brewster.

Graham will replace Bud Hufnagel, whose resignation is effective at the end of April.

Graham has been CEO of Coulee Medical Center since 2009, according to information on that hospital’s website.

“Scott is a highly qualified individual … who will bring an incredible skill set and an understanding of rural health care,” said Mike Pruett, a Three Rivers Hospital commissioner who lives in Winthrop.

“Scott is well aligned to…work with all of us as we move forward in the changing rural health care environment,” Pruett said.

Vicki Orford, Three Rivers Hospital board chairman, said in a statement Tuesday, after the board approved hiring Graham, that hospital officials were not yet able to provide information about Graham or the “conflict” he is involved in at Coulee Medical Center.

“He comes with controversy from the Grand Coulee area, and a lot of that is based on … lack of support from the board of directors,” Pruett said.

“He was moving forward with a number of different tasks and directions given to him by the board and, simply put, in midstream there was a change in the direction and tone the board was looking to achieve,” Pruett said.

“We as a board have spent a lot of time researching and looking into the allegations,” Pruett said. “It was part of our due diligence to research each applicant.”

A March 12 article in The Star, the Grand Coulee newspaper, reported that the Coulee Medical Center commissioners, in a meeting on March 10, authorized the hospital’s attorney to hire an independent consultant to investigate whether there are grounds to fire Graham.

Orford said in her statement that the Three Rivers Hospital board “stands united that Scott Graham is the best candidate to fill the CEO position. We based this decision on extensive research, skill sets, best fit, interviews, and previous employers.”

Graham graduated from the University of Utah in 1986 with a B.S. in psychology and in 1989 he received his master’s degree in psychology from Eastern Washington University, according to biographical information on the Coulee Medical Center website.

Prior to joining the Coulee Medical Center team, Graham served as chief operating officer at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, and has held executive management positions since 2000.