Gilbertson retires as MeritCare mergesDr. Roger Gilbertson, who has served as the only chief executive in Fargo-based MeritCare’s 17-year history, is stepping down now that the merger with Sanford Health is complete.
By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM
Dr. Roger Gilbertson, who has served as the only chief executive in Fargo-based MeritCare’s 17-year history, is stepping down now that the merger with Sanford Health is complete.
Gilbertson announced his retirement to employees shortly after the merger was announced on Monday. He will carry the title president emeritus.
Last February, at age 72, Gilbertson had announced plans to retire this year, but he also indicated before Monday that he was willing to remain as a consultant until his contract expired at the end of next year.
Instead, he decided it was best to step down and accept a buyout of his contract, but said he will remain available to help out as a volunteer if asked.
“I wanted to have a clean break,” Gilbertson said, adding, “I would be more than happy to contribute.”
In fact, Gilbertson plans to travel to Washington today to meet with elected representatives about health reform legislation taking shape in Congress.
Any future role by Gilbertson would be up to Kelby Krabbenhoft, the chief executive of newly formed Sanford Health & MeritCare, Gilbertson said.
“It’s a very harmonious relationship,” he said.
Krabbenhoft, who has been the chief executive of Sanford, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., for almost 14 years, praised Gilbertson as a man of “integrity, generosity, kindness and class.
“He has been a great spokesperson and advocate for doing the right thing,” Krabbenhoft said.
After announcing in February his plans to retire, Gilbertson said one of his most difficult challenges came last year, when MeritCare laid off 90 employees and 120 vacancies went unfilled in a cost-cutting move.
Gilbertson, who practiced as a neuroradiologist for 30 years, came to Fargo in 1971 to join The Neuropsychiatric Institute, then affiliated with Fargo Clinic and St. Luke’s Hospitals, which merged in 1993 to form MeritCare, with Gilbertson at the helm.
A native of Lake Park, Minn., and a graduate of Concordia College – also Krabbenhoft’s alma mater – Gilbertson said he plans to remain in Fargo and entertains the idea of a third career, involving volunteer service.
“I’m still a pretty viable person,” he said. “Who knows, maybe I have another one in there,” he said of a possible new career.
“I’ve been here a very long time,” Gilbertson added. “It’s certainly not an early retirement. It’s probably a late one. For me, I’m happy to move on.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522