Wordelmans say farewell to FairviewFor Scott and Donna Wordelman, leaving Red Wing won’t be an easy task. As the couple sat in Scott’s office in the administration department of Fairview Red Wing Medical Center last Thursday, both had tears in their eyes.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
For Scott and Donna Wordelman, leaving Red Wing won’t be an easy task. As the couple sat in Scott’s office in the administration department of Fairview Red Wing Medical Center last Thursday, both had tears in their eyes.
“It’s joy,” Donna explained, adding that the couple’s time in Red Wing has been wonderful. “There’s a grieving process. If you don’t grieve, that shows that you didn’t love what you had.”
Scott Wordelman will officially step aside as CEO of Fairview Red Wing Health Services Sunday following the acquisition of the company by Mayo Clinic.
As a result, Donna has also asked and been approved for a leave of absence from her position as a fourth-grade teacher at Burnside Elementary School.
“It’s just been an amazing place to be a part of,” Scott said of both Fairview and Red Wing.
The Wordelmans moved to Red Wing after Scott was hand-picked to help consolidate Red Wing’s medical facilities into Fairview Red Wing Medical Center in November 1997. At the time, he was working for Fairview as an administrator in Chisago Lakes, Minn.
The couple had spent 13 years in that community, and admitted that it wasn’t really the best time to relocate. They were in the middle of remodeling their house. And their sons, then ages 9 and 13, were settled into school.
“The opportunity came and both of us agreed that we weren’t going to uproot the boys unless they wanted to,” Donna said.
So the Wordelmans sat Ryan and Brent down and asked for their opinions.
“(Our oldest) Ryan said ‘If you’re going to do another one, let’s do it,’” Donna said. “I think they’ve always understood that this is (their) dad’s thing.”
One of Scott’s first tasks in Red Wing was overseeing the construction of the new Fairview Red Wing Medical Center. When he arrived, there was nothing but a couple of hayfields and a plan to build the new facility more tucked into the bluffs.
But that changed when Scott took a tour of the land, catching a glimpse of the view from the edge of the hill: downtown Red Wing, Barn Bluff and the river would be visible from the new facility, Scott decided.
“I got out of my truck and said, ‘We’re going to build it here,’” Scott said. “I think I was new enough … they weren’t going to question that.”
But even after overseeing the medical center’s completion, Scott said it’s not the building that he’s sad to leave.
“It’s what we do in the building,” he said, adding that Fairview has been able to create a state-of-the-art integrated facility.
Mike Larson, senior vice president of finance and operations for Fairview, has worked with Scott since 1998.
“He has a lot of ownership in what’s been developed here,” Larson said. “So much of it is more than the building; it’s the focus on quality and patient safety and all that we’ve made great strides in improving.
“He’s been a great mentor and a great leader for getting our organization to where we are today.”
At 14 years, this is the most time that the Wordelmans have spent in any one community.
“It’s going to be so difficult to leave because our roots are so deep,” Scott said.
That’s no understatement. In addition to Scott leading the medical center and Donna’s numerous teaching positions with Red Wing Schools, the Wordelmans are also involved in numerous community organizations.
The list includes Red Wing 2020, the Booster Club, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, Red Wing basketball and baseball associations, the Jones Family Foundation and the Red Wing Family YMCA.
Fairview spokeswoman Marcy Dowse joked that it would be easier to list off the groups that the Wordelmans aren’t involved with than say which ones they are part of.
“We love it here. We love the community. That’s why we’re committed to this,” Donna said of the Mayo acquisition.
Because it is Mayo’s policy to only have physicians in administration positions, Scott knew that if the acquisition happened, he could no longer serve as CEO.
“I had my eyes wide open,” he said.
But Scott also knew that the acquisition would be beneficial to the community.
“I thought strategically about the future of health care in Red Wing,” Scott said, adding that the community’s new relationship with Mayo is an “incredible upside.”
“My job as CEO of a health system is to ensure the health of that system,” he said. “That absolutely has to be No. 1.”
Scott said he’ll continue to be in Red Wing over the next six months or so to help the transition and provide counsel. But after that, the Wordelmans say they’re not sure what the next step will be.
“We’re just beginning to answer the question of what will happen next,” Scott said.
Now, looking back, Scott describes the last 14 years as “phenomenal.”
“It has been an unbelievable privilege to work in a leadership role (with Fairview). This chapter is now complete,” he said.
“I truly believe that the next chapter is ready to start. And we’re ready.”