MISHAWAKA — “Today, each of us in our unique capacity accepts a new challenge — to lead Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) into the future.”
While these words from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades were for all in attendance to emulate, they were the beginning of the opening prayer at a Mass for the commissioning of Al Gutierrez as the president and CEO of the hospital. The ceremony was held on Monday, Dec. 13, in SJRMC’s Our Lady of Fatima Chapel and it included representation from member of The 4th Degree of the Knights of Columbus.
Bishop Rhoades continued: “We do not take this challenge lightly or without careful consideration. As we commission Mr. Albert Gutierrez as president and chief executive officer, we trust that he will meet the challenge with the vision and confidence of the strong leader he has proven himself to be in the past and promises to be in the future. I further trust that in every endeavor thrust upon him, he will find in himself … and in each of us … the strength to meet each challenge ahead with compassion, excellence, respect and stewardship.”
SJRMC announced the appointment of Gutierrez as the hospital’s president and CEO on Oct. 5. His first day at SJRMC was Nov. 15. Clearly the Dec. 13 commissioning was an event he’ll hold close to his heart for the remainder of his career.
“It has been an absolute delight to get started here in partnering with our associates, leadership and medical staff to serve our patients and their families in the Michiana communities,” Gutierrez said at a reception at SJRMC following the commissioning ceremony. “But to have been sworn in by Bishop Rhoades in front of members of the Church is a very moving and encouraging experience, and I will continue to turn to God in leading this hospital in the enhancement of health care to all that we serve. As we move forward in this regard, it will be an honor and a privilege to work with Bishop Rhoades and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.”
“It is difficult to believe that it has already been one year and so much has already been accomplished here,” said Bishop Rhoades at the reception. “As we celebrate this historic occasion, it is only fitting that we welcome Al and his wife, Margaret, to our community. Their energy and enthusiasm parallels the fresh atmosphere here at this beautiful new hospital.”
Gutierrez has been with Shore Memorial Health System in Somers Point, N.J., since 1985, and served as its president and CEO since 2002.
“I am personally delighted that Al sought this position and agreed to join us at SJRMC,” said Mike Hammes, chairman of SJRMC’s board of trustees who emceed the reception. “He has done a phenomenal job leading Shore Memorial and in him we have a leader who will be able to take our hospitals forward to a new level. He brings the kind of thoughtful and decisive leadership this position demands.”
A Catholic, Gutierrez says Saint Joseph’s connection to a Catholic health-care system, Trinity Health, as well as its strong ties to the diocese, the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, were key elements in drawing him to the Midwest.
“Absolutely, the faith-based agenda really starts to fill in the blanks when it comes to health care. I believe that it is a strong element of healing,” said Gutierrez. “Some of the things that have to do with healing are common to everyone and it does require a belief that there are things that are bigger than us in the universe.”
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