DULUTH — The CEO and president of St. Luke's health care system is leaving the position after about 15 months.

Kevin Nokels joined the Duluth-based health care system in August 2019, according to a Wednesday, Dec. 2, news release from St. Luke's.

St. Luke’s Chief Financial Officer Eric Lohn and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Van Deelen will fill Nokels' role, according to the release.

St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Van Deelen (left) and Chief Financial Officer Eric Lohn were named interim Co-Presidents/CEOs Wednesday by the St. Luke’s Board of Directors after Kevin Nokels stepped down after serving as President/CEO since August of 2019. (Submitted)
St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Van Deelen (left) and Chief Financial Officer Eric Lohn were named interim Co-Presidents/CEOs Wednesday by the St. Luke’s Board of Directors after Kevin Nokels stepped down after serving as President/CEO since August of 2019. (Submitted)

The St. Luke's board of directors selected Van Deelen and Lohn to both serve as interim co-president and CEO at least through the middle of 2021. At that point, the board will reevaluate to determine a permanent plan.

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Nokels started at St. Luke's in August 2019, succeeding the former CEO and president of 23 years, John Strange.

Nokels previously served as the president of CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy in Omaha, Neb., where he oversaw $225 million in construction projects.

While acting as interim co-president and CEO, both Van Deelen and Lohn will continue serving in the roles they currently hold. Lohn has worked as St. Luke's chief financial officer for more than seven years and Van Deelen has practiced emergency medicine for more than 22 years at St. Luke's. He was named chief medical officer in January.

In a story published Wednesday morning on duluthnewstribune.com, St. Luke's office employees said Nokels didn't want staff working from home unless they're in quarantine or isolation. Nokels refuted those claims.

A St. Luke's spokesperson told Forum News Service that the allegations in the story did not have anything to do with Nokels' decision.