Mary Orr Retires After 10 Years on Hospital Board

Tuesday, September 24, the Humboldt County Hospital Board of Trustees said good-bye to one of their longtime members.

Mary Orr was honored by her fellow board members for 10-1/2 years of service to the board. Orr, who joined the board in 2003, served two terms as president, several terms as secretary and was instrumental in helping the hospital achieve many noteworthy milestones.

Those milestones include installation of a $2.5 million computer system, installation of new MRI, CT Scan, Mammography and Ultrasound equipment as well as recruitment of nearly a dozen medical providers.

Orr was also on the ground floor of planning and carrying out the hospital's Phase I and Phase II expansions, which included the addition of a medical office building to the front of the hospital and conversion of the patient wing to all private rooms.

Humboldt General Hospital CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish took a few minutes at the beginning of Tuesday's board meeting to present Orr with a plaque commemorating her service to the hospital.

Parrish said later that Orr will be missed, not only for her ability to envision the "big picture" and "what the hospital will need in the coming decades," but also for the human touch she has brought to the job.

"She has always tried to reach out to employees, patients and the public, in letting them know that their opinions and ideas are valued and worthy of her time and reflection," he said.

Parrish reminisced about a time when Orr became aware of an HGH employee who was experiencing some job-related stress due to malfunctioning equipment. "Without really knowing this employee, Mary showed up in her department, brought her flowers and offered words of encouragement."

Parrish continued, "It was a small act, but one of many which helped provide quiet leadership and morale support for the hospital and its staff."

Parrish said Orr has also been very creative in her approach to issues at the hospital.

"She has been known to introduce a solution at the same time she is pulling out her cell phone to make some phone calls to see if that solution will work," he said.

The CEO said Orr has also been a master at building consensus; he also lauded Orr for doing everything she could to become educated about the hospital operation and to help others take advantage of educational offerings and make sure they are up to speed on the most current hospital issues.

Parrish said, "She certainly has led the charge in that regard, attending conferences and retreats, bringing back information and ideas, which she has then implemented on the local level." "Good communication is one of her hallmarks," he added.

Tuesday, Orr thanked the board for their kind recognition.

"It's been an absolutely wonderful ride," she said. "I learned about hospital boards and hospitals and I specifically learned about this incredible hospital."

Orr then offered a few words of advice to her fellow board members.

"When you come to a board like this, you are one of many. You can't come with an agenda, because that blocks your opportunities; you do a huge disservice to the rest of the board."

She continued, "You have to stay open minded and get educated."

Orr officially resigned from the board in June following her graduation from nursing school and her hire by HGH as an ER nurse.

"I didn't go to nursing school to go anywhere else," she said. "This is where I wanted to be; this is where I wanted to make a difference."

Then Orr, dressed in blue scrubs, bid a smiling good-bye to her former board members and said she was going to go clock in for her shift.

Orr has been married to Gary Orr for 27 years and is the mother of two children. She has lived in Winnemucca since 1993 and was the director of the Humboldt Volunteer Hospice before she began nursing school. She has also been active in Junior Achievement and was a charter member of the Winnemucca Rotary Club.

Orr received the Rural Award for "Trustee Excellence" by the Nevada Hospital Association in 2008 for her many contributions to the Humboldt County Hospital Board of Trustees.