BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Retiring St. Luke’s Hospital president and CEO Dan Wakeman received parting words of praise during his last week of work at the hospital.
He officially retired on May 31 and board members presented him with a case of wine and well-wishes during an impromptu send-off on May 27.
“It’s hard to think about a more interesting 12-year career,” said board member John Bachey. “Two acquisitions, one divestiture, a dismantling of the entire back room and a rebuilding of the entire back room, installation of a massive undertaking of a computer system seasoned with a little coronavirus pandemic at the tail end. What an interesting career, and Dan, you have handled that with great energy, with great dignity, and I think St. Luke’s is a better place having you here for 12 years.”
In October 2008, just six months after Wakeman became hospital president and CEO, the economy collapsed and he was tasked with steering the hospital through a tumultuous period of ownership change, government litigation and massive health care reform. Then, in 2010, changes in the economy and the health care system led to a merger agreement with ProMedica, which quickly prompted a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A court battle ensued for five years, but in the end, the court sided with the FTC and the two organizations parted ways.
In 2016, St. Luke’s became an independent hospital. Last year, however, the hospital announced a new partnership with Michigan-based McLaren Health Care.
Wakeman, who has 31 years of experience in the health care industry, said that his time at St. Luke’s is the longest he has spent at one hospital.
“I don’t mean that negatively, but I would usually stay for seven or eight years because it was usually until things would stabilize before I would leave, but this one never seemed to stabilize the way I wanted it to,” he said.
Board member Cindy Smith said that Wakeman’s compassion and understanding of community made him successful. She also cited his many charitable contributions, including serving as emcee for the Maumee Rotary auction and chair for Mobile Meals and a wine gala.
“A community hospital is much different from a Toledo Hospital system, and you just hit it out of the ballpark,” she said. “I can’t think of a thing the board has asked you to do that you have not done for the community, and that resonates not just with the board but also with the staff and community.”
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr, who presented Wakeman with a proclamation, said he appreciates the support the hospital has given the city of Maumee and the personal relationship the two have shared.
“I can’t ever remember a time when I called you and it didn’t matter what you were doing, you would always call me back within 10 minutes and you would call me multiple times until we got what we needed,” Carr said.
Wakeman said that he is honored to have had the opportunity to serve the hospital.
“What makes St. Luke’s so special are the people. It sounds cliché, but it truly is. The individuals who work here as a general rule are very nice people,” he said.
Upon retirement, Wakeman plans to spend time with his wife and family before considering other opportunities.
Darrell Lentz has been named interim president and CEO. Since March, Lentz has served as a consultant while helping transition St. Luke’s to the McLaren health system. The board is searching for a new CEO.