New Mercy president likes what he sees

Steve Gerace
New president Ken Platou is impressed with the people and facilities at Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta.

Ken Platou, the new president at Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta, says it was a natural progression that led him to the new position he took over on April 1.

Platou grew up the son of a hospital administrator, took some time off before earning his baccalaureate degree to be a ski bum, later earned a Masters in hospital administration and has almost always worked in areas where people like to ski and vacation.

Most recently, Platou was the CEO for eight years at Montrose Memorial Hospital in Montrose, Col. Prior to that he held his first CEO position at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, Mont., for five years. He also held administrative positions in Englewood, Col., and Newton, Mass.

He started his career doing a residency for his graduate program at Swedish Medical Center near Denver, Col., which is where he met his wife, an RN?and ultrasound technician. He stayed there for 10 years.

Now he’s replacing Chuck Gersdorf in Mt. Shasta, and Platou says, “I’m thrilled to be here.”

He said several factors drew him to the Mt. Shasta post, including his respect for Mercy parent company Catholic Healthcare West and the hospital’s high ratings for patient satisfaction.

CHW, he said, “is a very well respected large provider in the country... they stay consistent to their mission and have not forgotten to take care of their patients.

Platou said he’s come into a “nice situation... it isn’t broken, there’s not a lot of problems. My goal is to build on the foundation that’s already here.”

He sees the Mt. Shasta area as a draw for high quality physicians who “have chosen to be here.”

Mercy Mt. Shasta, he said, “provides services a community this size typically wouldn’t have.”

He called the Mercy Cancer Center “a great asset, very unusual for a community this size.”

He said the facilities are in good shape, “the housekeeping crew does a great job” and “people are so warm and welcoming.”

Platou said he was surprised when the hospital held a reception for he and his wife, and the place “was packed – 50 people at least, and they all were genuinely appreciative.”

He noted a recognition ceremony that was held his first week on the job for volunteer Millie Johnson, who has been at the hospital for 23 years.

“That’s remarkable,” Platou said. “The volunteers are as dependable as employees, and loving it. We thank her and she thanks us. That puts it in perspective.”

Platou admits that the national picture for health care “is a challenge,” and he welcomes what he believes is inevitable change. “My perception is that the American public has decided it’s time for change... I?think we’ll have fundamental changes (in health care) in the next two to ten years, and we’ll be ready for it. We have a strong base, a good medical staff and dedicated employees.”

He said the industry's current method of delivering health care “is exemplary, but it falls apart in how we’re paying for it. Third party payers, that’s where the system has room for improvement.”