Oostra looks to strengthen ProMedica partnershipsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Oostra didn’t intend on making a career in medical administration but he now leads the largest health care organization in this region as president and CEO of ProMedica Health System based in Toledo.
“I certainly didn’t aspire to become an administrator in health care,” said Oostra, who grew up with Dutch heritage in a small town in rural Iowa. “I always thought I would be a college professor.”
Oostra said he always liked science and considered teaching that subject after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn. and earning a Master of Science degree from University of Wisconsin Eau Clair.
He had applied for a Ph.D. program when he received a job offer with a consulting group for hospitals. He consulted with hospital administrators for five years when he adopted a goal to stop traveling and pursue hospital administration.
“My goal was to run a small community hospital at that time,” said Oostra, who has worked in the health care field for the past 25-plus years.
He worked for Health One, now Allina Health System, in Minneapolis during and after graduate school. He also worked at Blodgett Hospital, now part of Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich.
From there, he went on to become administrator of two hospitals for St. Anthony’s Health System in Alton, Ill. It was part of the Sisters of Mercy organization in the St. Louis area.
Along the way, Oostra earned a doctorate from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Oostra said he received a call from Bill Glover, acting president and CEO for ProMedica Health System in 1997 when Flower Hospital merged with Toledo Hospital. He knew Glover from Grand Rapids and other health care professionals with Toledo connections.
Oostra said he only expected to be in Toledo for a few years, but stayed and raised three sons here with his wife Barbara.
All three sons are following their father into the medical field. The oldest, Drew is in his fourth year of medical school at Northeastern University College of Medicine. Tyler is a first year medical student at The Ohio State University and Carson is a sophomore in pre-med at Bowling Green State University.
“They discovered that on their own but it’s a very good feeling for me,” Oostra said. “Their mother and I encouraged them to be good students.”
When asked about significant persons in his career, Oostra cited a college professor who advised him to get into the medical field. Terry O’Rourke, president of Blodgett in Grand Rapids was also influential in his career.
“I learned so much from Terry who was a very critical thinker and asked a lot of right questions,” he said.
Oostra is close to the typical CEO in healthcare today. Only a small percentage of doctors are administrators, but he said that number is growing with more physicians becoming heads of hospitals.
“I love my job and what we do to help people every day with our mission-based organization. We have great dedicated people … doctors, nurses and caregivers on our staff,” he said.
More than 2.5 million patients are served annually by more than 2,900 physicians affiliated with ProMedica. It has more than 15,000 employees at 10 hospitals and 283 locations serving 27 counties in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, according to the company.
“We strive to improve people’s health and strengthen communities in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. We have great health care here in our region,” Oostra said. “Partnerships are more important than ever before.”
He cited ProMedica’s partnership with UT to offer more educational opportunities to its employees, and working with Mercy Healthcare and St. Luke’s Hospital to improve health services for people and communities.
“We have enjoyed our partnerships with the Mud Hens and Walleye that fit in with our mission to promote healthy living. It makes sense to be involved for the benefit of the entire community,” said Oostra, a self-proclaimed sports fan.
He said he was being thrilled to meet Gordie Howe, known as Mr. Hockey, at an event for the Wildwood Medical Center. Howe’s son Murray works at Flower Hospital.
Oostra said that he enjoys running and working out to stay in shape and “it’s a great stress reliever.” He also enjoys golfing and has a hole-in-one to his credit.
He said that having fun outdoors in business, family and social activities is “a great way to interact with people.”
When asked what business achievement he is most proud of, Oostra cited an award won for the “Got Ideas?” employee suggestion program developed by ProMedica’s Employee Involvement Association.
He said ProMedica has saved about half a million dollars from 1,500 suggestions made by employees through that program.
Larry C. Peterson, chairman of the ProMedica Health System Board of Trustees, said, “Randy’s leadership and vision will serve our system well and the communities of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan will benefit from our continued commitment to our mission.”