Lakewood’s System Board Chair, Loren Morey, retired from the Board on June 30, 2018 after serving for 11 years. The following was a speech written by Lakewood President and CEO, Tim Rice, to honor Morey’s accomplishments and contributions to Lakewood and the community.
Loren Morey was elected to the System Board in August 2007. In January 2010, he was elected to be Board Chair. He earned his Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) trustee certification in July 2009, has served on MHA’s Trustee Council since 2010, and has been a trustee representative on MHA’s Board of Directors since 2012. He also has earned the advanced trustee certification, which he received in July at the summer MHA trustee conference.
Loren is the epitome of someone who is engaged and committed. There is no half throttle with this guy. That philosophy and attitude is reflected in his entire life.
Before we talk about his contributions to healthcare, I want to share his incredible personal business journey.
Growing up in Motley, Loren understood the results that came from hard work and perseverance. After high school, Loren attended and graduated from Hamline in 1964 with a degree in business administration. He brought his learnings back home and worked with his dad in the family business, Morey Fish Company. The business continued to expand, with new processing facilities and smokehouse, as well as retail stores in Brainerd and Motley. Today, Morey’s frozen and smoked fish and seafood can be found in retail stores and dinner tables across the U.S. Morey’s also serves hundreds of fine seafood restaurants across the country.
Looking to continue to promote the industry he loved, Loren joined the board of directors of the NFI (National Fisheries Institute) and in the mid-80s, served as President over the organization, based just outside of Washington DC. This non-profit organization is dedicated to education about seafood safety, sustainability, and nutrition. From vessels at sea to your favorite seafood restaurant, the diverse member companies are committed to sustainable management of our oceans and being stewards of our environment by endorsing the United Nations Principles for Responsible Fisheries.
Always looking for new opportunities in seafood, Loren presented an idea to Multifoods, a corporate backer to the Morey Fish business, about building a facility in Motley to produce surimi seafood. This would prove to be a game changer in the industry. At that time, all the surimi sold in North America was imported. The race was on to build the first facility in the U.S. The plant was opened in 1987 and was commonly referred to as ‘Sea-Fest’, one of the brands of the company. Large Fortune 100 companies have been involved with the business over the years: Tyson Foods, ConAgra Foods and of course, Trident Seafoods, a privately held, family-owned company out of Seattle. Loren often refers to surimi as a phony crab, but there is nothing phony about it. Today, this facility he helped establish employs over 350 people and is the largest imitation crab manufacturer in North America and number two in the world.
Loren and his wife, Kathy, still reside in Motley and they are proud of what they have done for the community. He is proud to have brought jobs that equal and surpass the population of Motley. Loren and Kathy have always worked hard to make a difference. They are also proud of their two children: son Mark, and his wife, Hiedy; daughter Shari, and her husband Ryan; and their five grandchildren: Grace, Isabel, Ethan, Lydia, and Maria.
Loren’s reputation of a leader who will challenge you and ask the tough questions preceded him, and it can be intimidating if you do not know him. I did know Loren well and he just started on the Board when we went to a conference in Naples, Florida. We were listening to a very passionate presentation by Leland Kaiser and I was tearing up. I stopped and thought, “Oh my gosh, I cannot cry in front of Loren,” and I peeked to my right to look at Loren, and tears were flowing down his face and he said, “Isn’t this amazing?” That broke the ice of getting to know this great man.
During his tenure on Lakewood’s Board, Loren has demonstrated courage in remarkable ways that have directly and positively influenced Lakewood’s operational outcomes. He created Lakewood’s first governance committee which is responsible for recruiting new Board members, oversees Board training and education programs, and evaluating Board members’ performance. Loren has been a strong advocate for Board member education and MHA trustee certification, resulting in Lakewood having the highest number of MHA-certified trustees in the state. In 2014, Loren was awarded the Minnesota Hospital Association’s prestigious Bruce and Denise Rueben Courage Award for all his efforts and work on a regional and statewide level.
At Lakewood, Loren also serves on the Compensation, Finance, and Growth and Development committees, and has been relentless in the pursuit of meeting Lakewood’s financial goals to ensure the viability of the organization into the future. We will miss discussions on cash 250 days, and we will miss “just give me your best estimate”. Loren has worked hard to bring the Lakewood Board, administration and providers together by hosting an annual gathering at his home. It has been a fabulous event bringing us all closer together as a team.
At the winter trustee conference, we gather for a social and dinner event Saturday night. MHA members and other guests are invited, and later we end up at the Jim and Mary Jo Hofer social center (their room) where the socializing continues. Loren spends countless hours planning and organizing these gatherings even driving to the Cities numerous times to make sure things are ready. He is a master of picking out great restaurants. The impact of all these efforts on our working and personal relationships has been priceless.
Under Loren’s leadership, Lakewood has reached noteworthy milestones in service, employee engagement, healthcare quality and safety:
- Top-notch patient satisfaction scores. According to Press Ganey patient satisfaction surveys, Lakewood Health System’s hospital consistently ranks in the top 5% of hospitals in the United States.
- Highly-rated care center. Our care center is ranked in the top 50 in the nation and in the top 1% in the state.
- Best-in-class employee engagement. Lakewood has been awarded the Best-in-Class® Seal by HR Solutions. This honor is awarded to select organizations whose employee survey scores are within the top 10 percent of Employee Engagement and Overall Job Satisfaction levels.
- Focus on quality and safety. Numerous initiatives have improved our quality and safety to be at or below the target rate designated by the state.
- Promoting healthy babies. Lakewood is regularly recognized by organizations such as the MHA and March of Dimes for our efforts in reducing the number of elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before 39 weeks of pregnancy.
- He makes sure we fulfill our accountability on credentialing and compliance. He takes his Board accountability very seriously.
Loren, as you can see, sets high standards and he challenges us administratively to reach them and not let up. It is what great leadership does and that is what Loren is – a great leader.
On a personal level, one does not find a more dedicated or loyal servant than Loren Morey. Even during his own serious health challenges over the last few years, Loren honored all his commitments and responsibilities, rarely missing a meeting or overlooking a task. He has been known to call into meetings from his hospital bed or humbly ask others to provide transportation if he was physically unable to drive. One day Loren finished a treatment session at Lakewood, walked downstairs to a Board meeting, then went back to outpatient services for his second treatment of the day. Now that is commitment.
Loren and I were talking one day, and I remember asking him why he pushes so hard. He said it is because he loves Lakewood. He shared he has worked hard in his life to be successful and when you do that, you inevitably make mistakes — it is how you learn. He told me he did not want Lakewood to make the same mistakes he made. Do not misconstrue the push; what it means is passion, care and love for the organization. Another true sign of commitment.
Demonstrating courage, both personally and professionally – that IS Loren Morey. It is the reason behind his history of success in business and how his leadership has positioned Lakewood Health System to be successful in this changing world of healthcare.
In summary, what can one say?
- We were so fortunate he was at Lakewood almost daily
- He was able to share his expertise and knowledge
- He cared so passionately about the organization
- He was so committed both locally and statewide
- Who would want to follow that? You can’t. He is at a level of his own.
- Did you know that he recently received his Master pilot’s license? Only 10% of pilots in the country get this.
He does fly at a whole different level. Even when he is on the ground Loren also leaves us with a legacy statement that will never be forgotten. We would get working on something and he would say, let’s get it done, whatever it takes. I even have a button he gave me that has the saying on it and I keep it in my office. There is also a new rock and roll song by the Imagine Dragons, and the title is “Whatever It Takes.” Geez, even rock bands want to sing about Loren.
Well, Loren got it done and we have been honored and privileged to have him as a Board member, Board chair, state leader and most of all – a friend. One of the characteristics of a friend is being there for people when they need you. The way he’s been there for Dr. Mennis, he always had our back, and mine during my health issues. Loren even took the time to drive me to a medical appointment; you can always count on him.
We have a plaque for Loren in recognition of your service. But this does little to represent what he left in our hearts about his passion and caring for Lakewood. The impact on Lakewood providers and employees, the communities we serve, our patients and residents are your greatest legacy and contribution. You will never be forgotten and thank you for your exceptional leadership.