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Mattes Marks a Quarter of a Century at GRH

Hospital news | Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Contact: Mardi Ford

GRH President and CEO Jim Mattes

On December 31, 2009, Jim Mattes completed his 25th official year as chief executive officer of Grande Ronde Hospital. The long list of accomplishments during his tenure is marked by steady growth. It includes a significant increase in employees, $52 million increase in net worth, the elimination of long-term debt, two major construction projects and several remodels that have expanded and improved the facility, as well as the addition of 19 new services and departments.

Mattes is quick to redirect the spotlight to focus on the contributions of others.

"The success of these endeavors is really attributable to the efforts of so many people – from hard working staff who do the right things for the right reasons every day, to the variousphysiciansandvisionary hospital trustees who have provided dedicated service to the community– all of whom I have been privileged to work withover the last quarter-century," he says.

After searching association records, Andy Van Pelt with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Systems confirmed that Mattes’ 25 years at GRH gives him the distinction of being the longest serving CEO in the State of Oregon.

Mattes jokes that he is the unofficial Oregon hospital historian, having served as an Oregonhospital CEO for a total of 34 years, including three years at Malheur Memorial Hospital in Nyssa, which closed in 1989;and his six years in Lincoln City, prior to his coming to GRH. He also holds the Association’s record for having been the youngest hospital CEO, becomingthe CEO at Malheur Memorial Hospital when he was just 25.

Mattesjoins a distinguished
groupof GRH employeeswhose long-term service brings experience and dedication to the hospital.Including Mattes, there are 62 employees with 25 years of service or moreat Grande Ronde Hospital– another anomaly in what is often a high-turnover industry.

It was August of 1983 when Mattes was notified he had been selected from a field of more than 300 candidates to fill the vacant position of chief executive officer for GrandeRonde Hospital.

“Dr. Judge Hicks came to Portland and flew me to La Grande for my interview and took me back the next day. I was offered the job via a telegram in September and immediately accepted,” Mattes recalls.

He gave four months notice to North Lincoln Hospital where he had served as their CEO since 1978. He provided consulting services to GRH while continuing to work in Lincoln City through the end of that year.

So, although he actually began working for GRH on a part-time basis in early September of 1983, Mattes’ first official day at the helm was January 1, 1984 – the date he considers his anniversary date.

When Mattes took the helm in 1983, the hospital’s gross revenue was $11.5 million. Net worth stood at $4.1 million, including $1.2 million in Board-designated reserves. However, the hospital was also encumbered with nearly $7.7 million in long-term debt.

In comparison, for the 2009 fiscal year GRH reported more than $67.5 million in gross revenue and a net worth of $56 million, including nearly $22 million in Board-designated reserves. Perhaps even more significant in this era: The Hospital holds no long-term debt.

With regards to the growth of employment opportunities at GRH, a review of historical records shows that GRH had 312 employees in 1983. The official accounting for December 2009 was 505.

The list of departments and services that have been added since 1983 is also impressive. Many of them beyond the traditional status quo of small, rural hospital care, these innovative additions have helped make Grande Ronde Hospital the nationally recognized hospital it is today:

  • Home Health and Hospice
  • In-house Emergency Physicians
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Computed Axial Tomography (or CT) scans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Health Information Systems
  • Grande Ronde Hospital Foundation
  • Infection Control
  • Family Birthing Center
  • Public Relations
  • Compliance
  • Quality/Risk Management
  • SurgiCenter
  • Technical Services
  • The GRH Women’s Clinic
  • The GRH Children’s Clinic
  • The GRH Regional Medical Clinic
  • Oncology services
  • Telemedicine

“The corporate structure of the hospital has also changed significantly,” says Mattes, adding the corporation’s name was changed from Eastern Oregon Medical Center, Inc. to Grande Ronde Hospital, Inc.

And when asked what he sees as the single, biggest change in the past 25 years at GRH, Mattes says it has been the transition of physicians from independent contractors to employed physicians.

“We changed our business model to make the accommodation to a growing demand for employment. In doing so, we went from employing no physicians or nurse practitioners to employing 30 – including two more physicians who have now signed contracts and will start in 2010,”he says.

Mattes says the future definitely brings new challenges for the hospital. Two examples are the effects of a long economic recession and the impact of healthcare reform.

“Change can be a frightening thing, but the culture at Grande Ronde Hospital has always been one which initiates and embraces change,” he says. “I believe we will rise to the challenge and emerge as an even stronger and better organization.”