When Hoyt Skabelund came to Tucumcari three and a half years ago in 2001, he was an unknown quantity.
But most people in the city knew that the hospital needed someone. It had reached a point where something need to be done.
And because of that, the townspeople were willing to give the fresh-faced young man from the wilds of Idaho and Utah a chance to show what he could do. Also rumors were circulating that Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital might not be in the best of health itself.
Now, as Skabelund prepares to leave Tucumcari next week and take over the hospital in Socorro, it is a different world for both the hospital and its young administrator.
“I have such mixed feeling about this move,” said Skabelund. “It (the stay in Tucumcari) has been so good for both me and my family,” said the husband and father of two. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to live these last three and a half years.”
However, he said the offer from the parent company of Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital was something that at this point in his life he did not feel he could turn down.
He said the administrators of Presbyterian have seen something in him they apparently want to nurture and the step to Socorro is a logical step they felt was necessary. It is one he felt he could not refuse.
“The thing is though,” said Skabelund, “that I’m leaving a healthy hospital. It’s one that will continue to grow and get better and better. My father once said to me that to be an effective administrator a person ‘has to try to work himself out of a job every day.’ I guess I’m an effective administrator. This hospital will function fine without me.”
Skabelund said the search for his permanent replacement has already begun and should be complete in about three months. In the meantime, the temporary administrator who will be stepping into his office is one of the best in New Mexico.
Many have agreed that the city of Tucumcari will simply be sorry to see Skabelund leave.
“He and his family have been such an asset for our city,” said Tucumcari Mayor Mary Mayfield. “Still, we wish them well and thank him for the time spent here.”