REEDSPORT — Paul Connolly has been named the interim chief administration officer for the Lower Umpqua Hospital District, the district’s board of directors announced.

Connolly was originally hired as interim manager at Dunes Family Health Care while the district awaited the arrival of new Senior Director of Clinic Operations Marcy Wasiluk from John Day.

“Paul’s time at Dunes Family Health Care has allowed Marcy to take up the reins with much insight into the issues and challenges patients in our community are currently facing,” Board President Ron Kreskey, Secretary Leon Bridge and members Karen Bedard, Cheryl Young and Tamara Szalewski wrote in a letter to community members. “Marcy is familiar with Reedsport, having grown up in the area and is very familiar with the hospital as both of her children were born here at Lower Umpqua. We very much look forward to introducing her to our community in more depth in the upcoming days.”

Connolly has more than 30 years of rural health clinic management and hospital administration experience. He has worked in academic medicine, community hospital and critical access hospital settings throughout his career. That puts him in a uniquely qualified position to step into the leadership role at Lower Umpqua Hospital, the board said.

“Paul and Marcy worked together during the quick staffing transition and found their administration styles complemented each other,” the board said. “Both feel confident in their ability to work together to tackle some of the immediate needs and current challenges facing our district.”

Connolly is originally from Belmont, Mass., and attended Providence College in Rhode Island before doing graduate studies at Boston University.

Before coming to Reedsport he was in Colorado and planned to return there after his interim job at the clinic, but convinced his wife, Connie, he was more needed in Reedsport, the board said. Connie, who also works in the medical field, plans to join him in Reedsport soon.

The Lower Umpqua Health District employs 200 people, making it one of the largest employers in the Reedsport area.

“Safeguarding these jobs to provide much needed health services to all of us who live, work and vacation here remains a top priority,” the board said. “Our critical care hospital is fully staffed 24/7 to meet emergencies.

“While our hospital and clinics, like many other rural health care systems, experience our fair share of employee turnover on a regular basis, we always manage to fill those turnovers with an amazing amount of highly skilled and extremely talented, professional individual who come here, be it short or long term, with the commitment to bettering our community. Many come here and commit to putting in long hours trying to meet the growing, and sometimes overwhelming, diverse health needs of our community.”

The board prides itself in being resourceful and remaining committed to making the health district stronger. That can be challenging with 80 percent of patients on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board wrote, “2020 has challenged all of us in huge ways and on multiple fronts and continues to challenge us still. Often, great needs have the greatest potential to create something we can all be proud of.

“There is much to do and we the board, as well as the majority of the work force here in our district, remain committed to seeing this through.”

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