Very few people can say they have worked their entire adult work life in one place. In fact, the U.S. Labor of Statistics says the average person holds 12 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 50. For Terri Gehring, who is retiring at the end of this month as president and CEO of McPherson Hospital, she’s one of the very few.
Over the course of more than 40 years at McPherson Hospital, Terri has had the opportunity to work in various departments on her way to taking on the CEO role in 2017.
She began her journey at McPherson Hospital, then Memorial Hospital, in May of 1980 in the Medical Records Department as an Accredited Record Technician. Ron Schaumburg was the CEO at the time. Reflecting on how things have progressed in the health field, she said technology has probably driven the most change. “When I started, medical records were all paper. They consisted of handwritten notes and orders and dictated notes that doctors recorded into cassette tapes and then were transcribed onto paper,” she reflected. “We were also still using typewriters for everything. Because we only had one photocopier for the whole building we typed on carbon paper, at times making 7 copies at one time. You had to be extra careful typing because correcting mistakes on 7 copies was time consuming. Now the file rooms full of paper records are gone and medical records are electronic. Doctors record their notes into a microphone and computer software converts their comments into digital text for electronic storage. It has been quite a transformation.”
After about 7 years in medical records, she began working for the director of nursing, helping to coordinate risk management, which was a new law at the time. She also handled medical staff credentialing and learned a great deal about how the medical staff functioned by taking minutes at medical staff committee meetings.
After six years, she was approached by then-CEO Stan Regehr to go back to medical records to serve as department director. “I had been working part-time and had a 6-year-old and 2-year-old at home,” she said. “I really didn’t want to take on a managerial position that would require me to work more hours, but with the encouragement of many individuals, including my family, I decided to accept the director role.”
This began her journey serving in leadership roles at the hospital. She continued to coordinate risk management and medical staff credentialing in her new position, which she held for 10 years.
During the tenure of CEO Rex Walk, the position of Vice-President of Operations became open and she was approached to fill that role. She was excited about this role as it allowed her to become more involved with the hospital as a whole. In this role, she became a member of the hospital’s senior leadership team and acquired several direct reports from a variety of departments, an experience that would serve her well for what was to come.
In the 13 years serving in this role, during which time the title became Chief Operations Officer, she worked with 2 more chief executives: Jim Chromik and Rob Monical. When Monical left in 2017, the board felt she was the perfect person to step into the CEO position during a very challenging period.
Current hospital board of trustee president Tim Karstetter said, “When a CEO was needed during a difficult time for rural hospitals, Terri agreed to assume that role. Under her leadership, the hospital completed the new Medical Office Building, is in the process of adding a state of the art, MRI and is also in the process of adding a Women’s Imaging Center. Under Terri’s guidance, the hospital has achieved a higher rating than other hospitals in the area. Her impact cannot be overstated.”
“When I started at the hospital, I truly thought I would spend my entire working career as a medical records technician,” Gehring commented. “I have had opportunities I could never have imagined. I love McPherson Hospital and my goal has always been to do what I can to make it the best hospital for our community. I’m truly grateful to everyone who has impacted me both professionally and personally. This is a great community and I have appreciated not only the professional relationships but our partnerships with the community at large. Despite the challenging time we are in, the hospital is stable and in a position to grow and thrive. I look forward to watching new leadership take the hospital to the next level. I’m also looking forward to spending time with my family, enjoying my hobbies and doing some traveling with my husband Mike that we haven’t been able to do.”
Kartetter said, “The Boards of McPherson Hospital want to recognize Terri and thank her for her 40 years of service. We wish her well in retirement. She will be missed.”
Hospital officials say an interim CEO has been named which will be officially announced in the coming days.