By editorial board • 

New CEO looks to be a good fit

Incoming CEO Lorinda (Lori) Bergen sounds like just what the doctor ordered for the Willamette Valley Medical Center. Her résumé certainly checks all the right boxes.

The institution, challenged by disruptive management and ownership changes in recent years, has been at risk of losing touch with the community.

WVMC was held in almost universally high esteem during the tenure of Rosemari Davis, a former nurse who held the top position from 1994 to 2011, then returned on an interim basis in 2013-14. But too many changes dimmed some of the luster

Professional ratings dropped, occupancy declined and a unionization drive likely damaged relations with the nursing staff. Some word of mouth ratings became danger signs for an enterprise so central to community well-being.

After eight years heading Providence Newberg Medical Center, just up the road, Bergen has deep roots in Yamhill County, a nursing-side career path mirroring that of Davis, experience in planning and overseeing a $47 million expansion, successful navigation of nursing staff unionization in 2015, and a record of local community visibility and involvement.

She replaces two interim placeholders, who have been rarely visible locally since CEO Peter Hofstetter retired last fall, which explains much about how the hospital found itself somewhat adrift.

LifePoint Health’s Western Division, which oversees 16 hospitals in 11 states, has Bergen assuming command of a position she should clearly understand, and appears ready for the challenge.

The 60-bed Willamette Valley Medical Center is a slightly larger hospital serving a somewhat larger community. But both Yamhill County facilities are full-service, acute-care facilities designed primarily to meet community-level requirements.

Willamette Valley operates out of facilities developed alongside the Highway 18 Bypass in 1996 — early in Davis’ reign. It employs 630 doctors, nurses, administrators and support personnel, making it a nucleus of the local economy.

Providence Newberg is a 40-bed hospital operating with a staff of 540, making it a formidable economic force in its own right. It is one of six hospitals in the Portland-based Providence Health & Services, which also features a medical insurance arm and a network of clinics scattered around the Portland Metropolitan Area.

LifePoint executive Sandy Podley said of Bergen: “She has a long history of building community partnerships that advance the health and well-being of people of all ages. We are confident she is the right person to lead WVMC into the future.”

That’s great to hear. It suggests LifePoint’s assessment resembles ours.

Bergen certainly has an impressive set of qualifications. Here’s hoping she can make them pay off for her, and in conjunction with that, for all of us.