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Regional Health Board of Directors unanimously named Paulette Davidson the president and Chief Executive Officer of Regional Health, according to a press release sent on Thursday.

Davidson had been in the role of acting president and CEO since July after then-CEO Brent Philips stepped down in a move the board would only describe as a "personnel issue." 

“The Regional Health Board is excited about the future under Paulette’s leadership and has full confidence in her abilities to lead our organization forward,” Lia Green, chair of the Regional Health Board of Directors, said in the release.

Davidson has been with Regional Health since 2015, serving as Regional Health Chief Operating Officer. She was later named president of Rapid City Regional Hospital and the Rapid City market. The health system also operates in Sturgis, Custer, Deadwood and other western South Dakota locations.

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“I am proud to be part of Regional Health. I’ll work every day to positively impact how we deliver high quality care, provide a caring experience, be a great place to work, impact our communities, and position Regional Health for the future,” Davidson said in the release. 

Davidson holds an MBA degree with honors in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Kenosha. She has 30 years of experience in health care. 

“With compassion, integrity and vision, Paulette continuously demonstrates she is determined to make a difference in the lives of others — all while helping build a health care system that will serve our great region for generations to come,” Green said.

She takes over for Phillips, who had been head of Regional Health — the largest private employer in western South Dakota, operating five hospitals and 24 clinic locations that employ nearly 5,000 physicians and caregivers — since Jan. 1, 2015.

Green and Davidson praised Phillips after he stepped down in July, but were tight-lipped about the exact reason for his departure. 

“I worked very closely with Brent. I learned a great deal with him. I’m thankful for his leadership. Now we’re going to take it to the next step,” Davidson said during a July press conference.

Phillips' time as CEO was marked by growth in completed or planned new construction and expansion of hospitals and clinics in Sturgis, Custer and Spearfish. The Rapid City hospital is also in the middle of an emergency room remodel, and construction of the Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Institute near the intersection of Catron Boulevard and Mount Rushmore Road is nearing completion.

Still, Phillips had a rocky tenure. Nearly 100 doctors at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital called for Phillips’ removal in April 2017 after a "vote of no confidence." Also in 2017, Rapid City Hospital changed its admission policies for people suffering from mental illness, leading to large outcry from the community and the formation of the West River Behavioral Health Alliance. 

Most recently, the Rapid City Journal uncovered that Regional Hospital has been mixing their medical waste with their common trash. Despite repeated city warnings, the issue lingered for more than a year. Regional is now bypassing the city landfill and sending its trash to Nebraska.

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