PLAINVILLE — After a six-month search, Rooks County Health Center named a new chief executive officer — Anthony “AJ” Thomas of Hays. Thomas serves as RCH’s director of rehabilitation. He officially begins his new duties Feb. 5, according to Jeff Van Dyke, RCH board chairman.

“AJ received unanimous board approval to become CEO; he has the board’s full support,” Van Dyke said. “We’re also grateful to Frank Rajewski, RCH chief financial officer and interim CEO, who stepped in last August to guide the hospital during the search process.”

RCH’s former CEO, Mike Sinclair, died in August.

Thomas joined RCH nearly six years ago. He moved to western Kansas specifically to serve rural populations and promote the benefits of sports and orthopedic physical therapy. As RCH’s director of rehabilitation, Thomas oversees RCH’s departments of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cardiac rehabilitation and sports medicine outreach.

During his time as rehabilitation director, Thomas added occupational therapy and more than doubled the volume of all therapy patients served. As RCH’s needs grew, he added more staff. He initiated athletic training services for four area high schools and two middle schools. He contracted with two area nursing homes for supervision and guidance of restorative aide programs for improved quality of life for their residents. And he contracted with Rooks County Home Health to provide rehab services to patients in the home.

Due to the successes of the rehabilitation departments, RCH recognized the county’s need to build a new dedicated wing to house all therapy services. Thomas played a vital role in designing the hospital expansion, which includes a zero-entry therapy pool and rubberized walking track that will service not only patients but the public as well. The new dedicated therapy wing is nearing completion of the fundraising phase before construction begins.

As CEO, Thomas sees even more growth opportunities for RCH.

“We will work to constantly provide the highest quality health care possible, right here in our own backyard, growing the services that rural Kansans deserve,” he said. “RCH offers something really special, a culture that cares more and puts a premium on service. We not only do a great job providing the highest standard of health care, we do it with the best attitude.”

Thomas earned his bachelor of science degree in psychology and a master's degree in biology from Fort Hays State University before completing his doctorate in physical therapy from Rockhurst University.

Thomas serves as adjunct instructor for FHSU’s Biology and Athletic Training departments.

A board certified sports clinical specialist, Thomas serves on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s volunteer medical team, as well as a board member for the Kansas Physical Therapy Association, and Kansas’s Chief Delegate to the American Physical Therapy Association.

Thomas’ greatest pride comes from being the father of his three children and husband to his wife, Carla, whom he refers to as the “CEO of the Thomas household.” In addition to family, he believes in giving back as much as possible through service to the community. Thomas offers his time serving on the Pastor Parish Committee of Hays’ United Methodist Church and as a coach for youth sports through the recreation department.