Former Luis Hospital CEO Jeff Nelson found dead at stateside home
Published: October 23, 2013
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Former Luis Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jeff Nelson was found dead of a gunshot wound in Stillwater, Minn., on Tuesday morning, according to a statement released by the university of which he was president.
"It's with shock and sadness that I must announce that Jeff A. Nelson, our president, was found dead on his Stillwater property this morning. The cause of death was evidently a gunshot wound," a statement released Tuesday by Northwestern Health Sciences University said.
Authorities are investigating Nelson's death and have not yet made a final determination on the cause or classified it, Sgt. Matt Wieland of the Washington County Minnesota Sheriff's Office said Tuesday night.
Wieland said that family members found Nelson's body on Tuesday morning.
"Our detectives are looking at it," Wieland said. "It's still under investigation."
Nelson, who abruptly resigned as Luis Hospital CEO on Jan. 26 after two years at the helm, was president and chief executive officer at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn., just outside Minneapolis, when he died.
He had been president at the private, non-profit university for just more than six months, after the school's Board of Trustees elected him to the post on April 13. The university offers a number of programs in different disciplines, ranging from a College of Chiropractic to a College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and a College of Graduate Health Sciences.
Nelson came to St. Croix as Luis Hospital CEO in January 2011.
The Luis Hospital board touted him as a turn-around specialist and at the time voiced the hope that he would take steps to improve the situation at the troubled hospital.
"Jeff was probably one of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure to get to know. He was a devoted husband and father. He spoke of his family often, and he really was committed to his work here in St. Croix," former Luis Hospital board chairwoman Kye Walker, who led the board during Nelson's tenure, said Tuesday.
Nelson's tenure at Luis was marked by controversy, including the firing of 86 employees in February 2012, most of them licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants, to cut expenses and focus on registered nurses. Some of his ideas also ran afoul of the local physician's union.
However, under Nelson's tenure the cash-strapped hospital also saw several months of positive cash flow and its hemodialysis unit make significant progress.
"He was always fair, I thought," said Deepak Bansal, who was a Luis Hospital board member during Nelson's tenure, before Nelson hired him as Luis Hospital Chief Financial Officer. "I think he would want to be remembered that he was fair, and he did things here with the best intentions. He had the best intentions of JFL. He truly wanted to make a positive impact."
Bansal said he was "in shock and heartbroken" about the news.
"He was an excellent manager and knew the health care industry very well. It's a great loss," Bansal said. "All I can say personally is I wish his family the best. It's really a tragedy. No matter what individuals thought of his ideas, he definitely left a positive impact on the St. Croix hospital and community."
Walker remembered Nelson as a consummate professional.
"Those of use who had the opportunity to get to know him well know of his character and his passion for his work and his desire to make things better," she said.
She also remembered that gratitude was very important to Nelson.
"If there were something I wanted to say to Jeff and to his family, that would be thank you," Walker said. "Those were his favorite words."
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.