SEBASTOPOL - The Palm Drive Health Care District board voted Monday evening to hire Tennessee-based management firm Brim Healthcare Inc. after officials ousted Chief Executive James Russell earlier this month in the wake of continued public contention.

Brim will bring an on-site CEO, Neil Todhunter, a 20-year health care administration veteran of Oil City, Penn., as well as provide other consulting services during a 120-day trial period. The contract will commence Aug. 3 and could last up to three years at about $250,000 annually. The company currently services 37 full-service, acute care hospitals nationally.

"Brim has come highly recommended to us," said board President Dan Smith in a statement. "In addition to a CEO, they offer a full support system, which I believe is necessary for the next phase of Palm Drive's business growth. They'll do a full assessment of our organization and decide what resources are needed to make us the best hospital we can possibly be."

The board voted July 20 to release Mr. Russell without specific cause, though after an extended public trade of accusations. He will receive a severance of about $131,000 and seven months' worth of health and other benefits.