July 17, 2023


Deaf Smith County Hospital District Board Names Chief Nursing Officer as Interim CEO

Candice Smith, MSN will take over from current CEO Jeff Barnhart in August

Deaf Smith County Hospital District’s Board of Directors has named the hospital’s chief nursing officer, Candice Smith, MSN, RHCNOC, CCRN as interim CEO to assume leadership of the hospital, clinic, and EMS system once current CEO Jeff Barnhart leaves the role in August. Smith’s new role becomes effective August 4.

“I could not be more honored to step into this role and continue the great work this hospital is doing for our community,” said Smith. “I care deeply for this hospital and the community we serve, and I’m committed to furthering our mission and earning my place as a leader at Deaf Smith County Hospital District.”

Smith has been with the hospital as chief nursing officer since 2016 and brings more than 20 years of experience as a nurse and 10 years of experience as a CNO to this new role.

“We’re confident in Candice’s ability to lead our organization and continue the important work of fulfilling our mission to advance care for the people of Deaf Smith County,” said Mike Schueler, board president of Deaf Smith County Hospital District. “From her decades of experience and advanced clinical expertise to her passion for this community, she is the right person for the job.”

Smith recently earned her certification as a Rural Health Chief Nursing Officer from the National Rural Hospital Association and is active in numerous civic and community groups including the Panhandle Regional Advisory Council, L’Allegra, Amarillo College Advisory Counsel, CASA board, and Hereford Day Care board. She also serves as a council member on the Texas Disaster Preparedness Committee and is an active member of the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force.

“Her experience and accomplishments speak for themselves, and her commitment to this community is unquestionable,” said Jeff Barnhart, CEO, Deaf Smith County Hospital District. “I know our staff and patients are in the right hands with Candice, and I look forward to seeing how she continues the innovative work our system is known for.

Barnhart leaves the CEO role after seven years. During his tenure, Barnhart oversaw the expansion of several services, including wound care and the WorkSmart program, an employee wellness program. He also spearheaded the addition of new services like the community paramedicine program, which integrates inpatient, EMS, outpatient, and social work services to bring post-hospitalization care to the community and reduce preventable readmissions.

Barnhart received numerous leadership awards during his tenure, including the recently awarded THA Pioneer Award, and has been widely recognized for his leadership and dedication to the mission of the hospital and to the people of Hereford.

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