It’s been a tumultuous few years at Eureka’s St. Joseph Hospital. New top administrators have come and gone in fairly rapid succession. The campus’ landmark new tower finally opened after delays and cost overruns. The hospital and its parent, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, have struggled to maintain peace with area medical professionals, a sizable faction of which resents the ever-increasing trend toward hospital consolidation of medical services.

But we’re guessing that most local docs must be pleased with the new news coming out of St. Joe’s this week: The hospital has chosen a new leader (at least for the time being) and he is one of their own.

The Lost Coast Outpost can confirm that the hospital has tapped as its new interim president Dr. David O’Brien, who currently serves as the chief operating officer of one of St. Joe’s sister hospitals — St. Mary Hospital in Apple Valley, Calif. The fact that the hospital’s new leader is a bona fide M.D. is happy enough news for dissident docs. But with O’Brien there’s an addition bonus — before he head off into the world of hospital administration, he was a family practice physician right here in Eureka.

Leslie Broomall, St. Joe’s spokesperson, told the Lost Coast Outpost yesterday that though O’Brien will take over the reins Monday, he is currently classified as the hospital’s “interim” president. The hospital is still conducting a search for a permanent leader, and O’Brien is considered one of the finalists for that position. But since he is familiar with both Humboldt County and the St. Joseph system, it made sense to set him up on an interim basis while the full search proceeds.

“It actually seemed to be a good fit,” Broomall said. “I don’t know how long the process will take — these things always take longer than you think they will.”

Broomall said that she’d try to arrange an interview between the new interim president and the Outpost sometime next week, after O’Brien settles in a bit. Have questions for him? Let us know.