- Dr. Roger Gilbertson, president and chief executive officer, MeritCare Health System, 72, has announced his intent to retire by the end of 2009. His retirement will be timed with the hiring of a new president and CEO to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
- Dr. Gilbertson's announcement coincides with the culmination of MeritCare's year-long Centennial celebration, which began Feb. 25, 2008.
- Dr. Gilbertson is MeritCare's first and only president/CEO and has served in this capacity for 16 years.
- Dr. Gilbertson became president/CEO in 1993 when St. Luke's Hospitals and Fargo Clinic merged to become MeritCare.
- Dr. Gilbertson is a native of Lake Park, Minn. He graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Prior to his 16 years as CEO, Dr. Gilbertson was a neuroradiologist for 30 years – he owned a medical imaging company in Fargo and was affiliated with The Neuropsychiatric Institute and Fargo Clinic.
- Dr. Gilbertson established neuroradiology as a medical subspecialty in western Minnesota and North Dakota.
- Dr. Gilbertson and his wife, Joey, live in Fargo, N.D. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Dr. Gilbertson's most notable achievements:
- Established the vision for coordinated care throughout the region, starting with his key role in the merger of St. Luke's Hospitals and Fargo Clinic to form MeritCare Health System in 1993. Navigated MeritCare through its critical formative years to national prominence as a top 100 integrated healthcare network, six times from 2000-2008 (Modern Healthcare magazine).
- Presided over tremendous growth of MeritCare, which doubled in size in its first 10 years. This growth included the acquisition of Heartland Health System in 2002. From 2002 to date, the number of MeritCare employees has increased from 4,000 to over 7,000. The Heartland acquisition made MeritCare the largest private employer in North Dakota, the largest hospital in North Dakota, (an increase of 380 beds to 583 at two hospital locations in Fargo), and the largest group medical practice in North Dakota (from 305 to 450 doctors). The organization increased from having 50 specialty areas of medicine in 1993 to 73 in 2009.
- Promoted the advancement of technology in patient care including the use of robotics in heart surgery; the transition from paper to electronic patient medical records; the implementation of filmless digital radiology; and the utilization of numerous innovative technologies in surgeries and breakthrough cancer treatments.
- Built a regional network of care. Expanded MeritCare's regional network from a mainly Fargo-based operation to a regional system with 20 neighborhood locations in Fargo-Moorhead; 19 regional clinics in Minnesota; eight regional clinics in North Dakota; and an integrated regional hospital and clinic system in Thief River Falls, Minn. MeritCare is the primary health care provider in the region.
- Championed new systems and methods of care delivery, including the introduction of walk-in clinics (MeritCare currently has six); the growth of FastTrack convenience clinics in grocery stores (the organization has two); the use of telemedicine; and the increasing use of the Internet and online resources to deliver health care and services.
- Fostered partnerships with communities, including support for ongoing community benefit activities – relationships with area universities, high schools and elementary schools; establishment of youth medical programs to foster a new generation of health care workers; mentoring programs; health education in the community; and relationships with parish nurses, local homeless shelters and the Family HealthCare Center.
- Promoted excellence in the practice of medicine through expanded residency programs, expanded research opportunities, and clinical education and training programs for nurses and many other health professionals.
- Has been a leader in the community and region including being on the boards of Bank of the West, Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Concordia College, Cass County Fargo Economic Development, Downtown Community Partnership and Northern Plains Ethics Institute; and leadership positions with United Way of Cass Clay, Olivet Lutheran Church and the Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce.
- Brought a national voice to health care reform and public policy. Founding member of the North Dakota Health Policy Consortium; board chair of Voluntary Hospital Association (VHA) Upper Midwest; board member of the North Dakota Healthcare Association and American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board for Region 6; and member of the American Hospital Metro Governing Council and the National Institute of Health Policy.
- The search for Dr. Gilbertson's successor will begin immediately. MeritCare's board of trustees expects to hire a national search firm by March to assist with the search and selection process. The board expects a new leader to be in place no later than the end of 2009.
- MeritCare will continue to further Dr. Gilbertson's vision for coordinated and excellent care throughout the region.