Their story is our story.
Longtime CEO Jim Lussier recalls proudest achievement at St. Charles
Hired in 1970 by the legendary Sister Catherine Hellmann, Jim Lussier joined St. Charles as personnel director. His first task? Oversee the construction of a state-of-the-art medical center on a site east of Bend, which at the time was considered on the outskirts of town. The hospital had outgrown its modest downtown location, where it was struggling to address the health care needs of a growing community.
The 68-acre original parcel, Lussier recalled, was purchased for just $70,000. At the time, the notion of acquiring a lot that large seemed unnecessary. But the foresight to do so would later pay huge dividends.
“I visited hospitals in Texas with three major medical centers on five acres in downtown Dallas,” Lusser recounted. “All their expansion had to be up. There were 20, 30, 40 levels. We’ve never had to deal with any of that because of the foresight of Sister Catherine and the community.”
And years later, when Lussier sought to purchase an additional undeveloped acre for the hospital’s needs, the landowner’s asking price was $1 million.
During his 38-year tenure, including 15 years as CEO, Lussier also oversaw the merger of St. Charles with Central Oregon Community Hospital in Redmond, and shepherded the expanding institution through monumental changes in technology and medical services to meet the needs of a rapidly growing region.
Looking back, however, he says his proudest achievement wasn’t the buildings or the medical advancements. It was fostering a culture of caregivers dedicated to healing.
“My proudest moment was the development of our caregivers,” he said. “Our nurses are unbelievably caring. Sister Catherine wanted, as I did, staff that were dedicated to healing and health care, and we built a culture around that.”