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Tom Tibbitts bids farewell to Trinity Health Systems

Longtime chief executive officer takes a look back — and ahead

December 27, 2009
Messenger News

The New Year is quickly approaching. It signals a time of change and a time of new beginnings. That is certainly true at Trinity Regional Medical Center, as 2010 will mark a significant change in leadership for the hospital.

I came to Fort Dodge in 1974 following the merger of Lutheran and Mercy Hospitals in 1973. At that time I was an associate administrator, and was appointed chief executive officer in 1980, a position I would hold for 30 years. Three years ago, as I began to near retirement, the Trinity Health Systems and Trinity Regional Medical Center boards of directors initiated a plan to transition the leadership of the organization from me to a new leader. It was the board's unanimous choice that Sue Thompson, who has worked with me at Trinity for 20 years, would be the successor to lead the organization into the future.

Sue assumed the role of president/CEO of Trinity Regional Medical Center on Jan. 1, 2009. And in a few short days, on Jan. 1, 2010, I will step down as president/CEO of Trinity Health Systems and Sue Thompson will assume that role as well.

As I reflect over the last 36 years, it has been exciting to watch Trinity grow and prosper over three decades. There are, however, a few milestones during my career at Trinity that are particularly significant.

The first milestone was the formulation of Trinity through the merger of the two hospitals, Lutheran and Mercy, in July 1973. While it was a controversial decision at the time, it turned out to be best for the community in the long run.

A second milestone was the opening of the North Tower project in 1980, the first major building project at Trinity. Itprovided the space to add new private patient rooms and expand many ancillary services.

Another milestone was the development of Trimark Physicians Group, one of the largest multispecialty physician organizations in the state of Iowa. Trimark created a physician network that consolidated overhead and administrative support while strengthening Trinity's ability to attract qualified physician specialists and subspecialists to Fort Dodge.

During this time, we also began to develop great partnerships.

First was with the Wolfe Clinic in Marshalltown. Fort Dodge was the first community in which the Wolfe Clinic established a full-time satellite clinic. In 1999, Trinity joined the Iowa Health System as a senior affiliate. And finally, in 2000, we began our great partnership with the Iowa Heart Center. This partnership has been instrumental in Trinity receiving the Top 100 Heart Hospital designation in 2008 and 2009, one of only 30 community hospitals in the United States to receive this quality honor.

The most recent milestone is the completion of the Atrium Tower. The Atrium Tower is the single largest construction project in Trinity's history. Twenty years ago, 75 to 80 percent of the surgeries performed at Trinity were inpatient. Today, that percentage has been completely reversed with over 75 percent of the surgeries performed at Trinity done on an outpatient basis. The new facility provides new surgical and other outpatient services, which will enable Trinity to keep pace with the growth and change in health care for years ahead.

It has been exciting to have been a part of Trinity's development throughout the years; however, it is the people that make Trinity an exceptional organization. I have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful individuals - board members, physicians and staff; great board members that have provided the organization with direction and leadership and physicians that challenged us to focus on quality and build clinical excellence. But the real constant at Trinity is the staff. They are what keep the organization moving. The staff at Trinity Regional Medical Center is second to none!

As my tenure comes to a close, it is my hope that the legacy I leave at Trinity Regional Medical Center is twofold.

First, I leave Trinity in a better place than when I came. Through the support of staff, physicians and board members, I believe we have accomplished this.

Second, I leave the organization is good hands. I feel very good about Sue Thompson as the new CEO of Trinity Regional Medical Center and Trinity Health Systems and I am confident with Sue's leadership the organization will continue to prosper and move forward.

Thanks to everyone for their support over the last 36 years. It has been my pleasure to serve Fort Dodge and the region.

Tom Tibbitts steps down as president of Trinity Health Systems on Dec. 31.



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