When Russ Myers became president and CEO of Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, now Virginia Mason Memorial, he knew that he would not work much past age 65.
That was in January 2014. Myers is now 65 and sticking with his plan: He will retire in early 2020.
His retirement will mark the end of more than three decades with the hospital. Myers started working there in June 1989 as a management analyst. He served in several roles before becoming president and CEO.
During his tenure as CEO, he led the process to affiliate and integrate with the Seattle-based Virginia Mason Health System.
“There are many successes, and the organizations continue to work together and integrate so we can look like one system,” he said. “But it’s a work in progress. ... It takes several years, and I’m sure even at that point, you are never where you want to be.”
Myers credits the hospital’s employees and board of directors for his success, not just as CEO but in the other roles he’s served in the 30 years he’s worked at Memorial.
“I feel I’ve been fortunate to work here and with the people here,” he said.
Myers has been recognized for his work by hospital executives statewide. Most recently, Myers received the Silver Award for executives outside the Puget Sound Region at Seattle Business magazine’s annual Leaders in Health Care Awards event. He also served in various roles with the Washington State Hospital Association.
Before arriving at Memorial, Myers was a pharmacist. He earned his pharmacy degree from Washington State University and completed his pharmacy residency at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, N.C. After a decade in pharmacy, he transitioned to health care administration and received his master’s degree in health administration in 1989.
A nationwide search is now underway to identify candidates for the CEO position.
Myers plans to retire sometime during the first quarter of 2020 to allow a new president and CEO to have a year to tackle the goals and plans that the hospital will have in place come Jan. 1.
“When a new CEO comes, I think the first thing I’ll do is to get out of the way,” Myers said. ‘The second thing I’ll do is make sure I’m available to answer any questions.”
Once he retires, Myers plans to devote more time to recreational activities and his family, including his children and grandchildren in Western Washington. He also intends to work part-time as a consultant on workforce development projects.
“When you’ve been doing what I do, you certainly hope you have some lessons you can help others with,” he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with additional details and quotes from Myers.