The Barrett Hospital in Dillon has hired a new chief executive officer who will take over in June.

The hospital’s board this week moved to hire Ken Westman, 40, the chief operating officer and nursing home administrator at Bigfork Valley Hospital in Bigfork, Minn. Westman will take his new job in mid-June, said Patti Mitchell, Barrett board chairwoman.

She said Westman was one of three candidates on a short list that came out of 30 applicants for the job. Mitchell added Westman is not only experienced in health care administration, but also was enthused to make Dillon and southwest Montana his home.

“Ken came to the top,” she said. “He’s a cultural fit and he’s very well qualified to be a CEO.”

Westman said Friday he was impressed with Barrett’s staff, board and the Dillon community when he visited to interview for the position. And Barrett is similar to the 20-bed critical access hospital where he works in rural northern Minnesota.

“This is my niche — my passion in my career is to work in rural medicine,” he said in a telephone interview from his office in Bigfork.

Mitchell said the board discussed getting somebody who will enjoy the rural setting of Dillon while possessing the training and experience to lead the hospital.

Westman comes to the position as a new $30 million hospital is being built in Dillon. The project is slated to be completed next spring. He will be an employee of Health Tech, a management company Barrett contracts with for its CEO position.

Westman received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota.

He said he enjoys hunting, fishing and snow sports and said he looks forward to the outdoors opportunities in southwest Montana.

Westman and his wife Missy Westman have three young children.

Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.gevock@mtstandard.com.

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