Heppner, Oregon – June 29, 2021 – The Morrow County Health District (MCHD) Board of Directors has announced that Victor VanderDoes, who served for a brief time as Interim CEO, resigned from his position effective Friday, June 18, 2021. Mr. VanderDoes’ departure was a direct result of his unauthorized presentation to the Boardman Chamber of Commerce. In a statement to all staff following the event, the Board shared the following, “We must convey that his [VanderDoes’] conduct and the context of his words and actions in no way reflect the Board’s sentiments. We deeply regret the harm his comments may have caused to those present during that session, those participating in the event on social media, and to all the valued community partners he mentioned during his presentation.” Board members John Murray, Chairman, Carri Grieb, Diane Kilkenny, Aaron Palmquist, and Marie Shimer emphasized that neither they nor members of the executive team had prior knowledge of Mr. VanderDoes’ intent or the content he presented. They also stated that under no circumstances would VanderDoes be permitted to continue in his role had he not resigned.
Immediately after the events of last week, the MCHD Board began working on a plan to address the vacancy in the CEO position while also ensuring the District’s stability. In the letter from the Board to staff on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the following was included, “I want to share what we as a board believe to be the most positive news and outcome we could have imagined emerging from this situation. We are pleased to share that Emily Roberts, MCHD’s current Compliance Officer, had expressed an interest in pursuing an opportunity to become our newest Chief Executive Officer.” On June 23, Roberts accepted the position as Interim CEO and immediately began working with staff.
In her first District-wide communication as Interim CEO, Roberts shared, “I am honored to be writing to you as the District’s Interim CEO, a role that I take very seriously. As the Interim CEO, I will give my best every day to regain your trust and to restore community confidence in our organization.”
In addition, Roberts, a health care compliance professional, has a background in behavioral health and acknowledged the District’s current challenges. She pledged the following, “Here is who I aspire to be for you: an authentic, resilient, and energetic leader that puts the needs of the District first.” She went on to say that she is “as enthusiastic and committed to transparency as ever.”
When addressing current operational and financial positions, Roberts said, “Despite the District’s recent challenges, I want you all to know that the District is in a solid financial position. In addition, we are excited about the new additions to our medical staff and feel confident that we have the resources needed to continue providing exceptional care to the community.”
Besides the change in the District’s executive team, a search has begun for a new Compliance Officer to replace Roberts. More details will become available as they develop. Additionally, the executive leadership team, and the Board have committed to participate in an extensive leadership development process. For example, working with a highly experienced board governance and executive leadership coach and a rural health strategist and communications expert. Mary Rooney Sheahen, RN, MS, RLC, and Michelle Rathman, CEO of Impact! Communications, Inc. have a long-standing relationship with the District, assisting through challenging transitions, leadership and team development, and communications support. “Mary will be working closely with Emily, the entire executive leadership team, and Board, providing guidance and an unparalleled level of expertise,” is how the Board described the collaboration and organizational development and improvement work with Impact.
Currently living in Yacolt, Washington, Roberts will be moving to Heppner with her husband and 7-month-old daughter as early as July 6. She shared in her staff email, “From that moment forward, my door is open to you,” and reiterated her commitment to communication and transparency.
As the Board announced Emily’s new position to District staff, they expressed their collective “heartfelt thanks” to them for their continued commitment to providing excellent patient care and service. They closed their letter with, “We are stronger together, and this adversity will pass. There are much and many better days ahead.”
The Morrow County Health District Website, HealthyMC.org will be updated to reflect current staffing changes, news, and information over the next 30 days. MCHD has a renewed commitment to connecting with its community stakeholders, our website being vital source of information to keep District residents informed.