Samaritan Albany General Hospital CEO David Triebes has managed hospitals in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Oregon and has always had the same philosophy: It takes a team-wide commitment to excellence to succeed.
Perhaps that comes from the days when he played football and rugby at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
It’s a philosophy that has worked well since 2004 at Albany’s 78-bed hospital.
But Thursday, Tribes told his nearly 1,000-member team that he is going to retire from daily management duties at the end of June, and he will transition out of managing Samaritan’s insurance company by the end of the year.
Triebes, 68, has been the hospital’s CEO for 15 years, but he was vice president of corporate operations for Samaritan Health Services for four years before that.
“The challenge is that we always want to grow within our financial constraints, while at the same time maintaining or improving the quality of services and safety for our patients,” Triebes said. “It’s a balancing act.”
Triebes said it didn’t take long after coming to work for Samaritan to realize the Albany hospital campus is geographically constrained in terms of footprint growth. A city cemetery is on its western boundary, a nursing home is to its north and a historic district to its south.
“I realized quickly that if we were to grow and expand our services, it would have to come by finding greater efficiencies in how we provide services,” Triebes said.
His team has done just that, although there also have been extensive remodeling projects along the way.
The emergency department treated nearly 30,000 patients and there were 700 knee and hip replacements last year. Triebes counts himself among those alumni, having a knee replaced two years.
“Joint replacements used to be major surgeries,” Triebes said. “Now, most patients go home the next day and we are well on our way to same-day surgeries.”
Triebes is responsible for all of Samaritan’s clinics and services in Albany, including the North Albany clinics and Samaritan Evergreen Hospice, of which he is especially proud. The $5 million facility provides care for terminally ill patients.
“Hospice truly belongs to the entire community,” Triebes said. “It’s one of only three of its kind in the state. The community raised money for this and it has been wonderful.”
In 2017, Samaritan Albany General Hospital was recognized for its commitment to infection control. The hospital had the least number of infections among 61 hospitals statewide. In 2016, there were only five in-hospital infections out of thousands of patient days and four of those were the same type of infection.
“That happens because our staff is focused on continually improving patient care,” Triebes said. “It means every component of our organization provides outstanding service and we treat everyone we encounter with respect. We truly have amazing people here.”
Triebes was born in Chicago and remains a steadfast Cubs baseball fan. He and his wife, Carol, recently spent some time in Arizona, watching the Cubs prepare for the upcoming major league season.
He graduated from Luther College in 1973 with a goal of becoming a lawyer. He earned MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and passed the Iowa bar exam.
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But his interest was piqued when a college counselor suggested he might consider hospital management as a career.
He worked at the hospital in Decorah during his college years and then worked at hospitals in Des Moines while attending Drake University.
His first hospital administrative job was in 1984 at a 118-bed facility in Des Moines. In 1986 he moved to Wisconsin, 1988 to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, 1993 to John Day in eastern Oregon, 1998 to Southern Illinois and 2000 to Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis.
In the small world department, Triebes said the same friend who suggested he contact former Samaritan president Larry Mullins is the same person who suggested that Doug Boysen, who succeeded Mullins in the top job a year ago, contacted Triebes when Boysen was looking for a new job several years ago.
“Dave was the individual that first recruited me to Samaritan back in 2006,” Boysen said. “Since that time Dave has not only become a trusted peer, but also a good friend. I am going to miss Dave’s leadership and dedication to Samaritan. He has done so much to grow and enhance Samaritan Albany General Hospital and the entire system.”
Triebes said he isn’t sure what retirement will bring, although he is seriously considering taking the Oregon bar examination. He passed the bar in Iowa and was licensed there, but has never been a practicing attorney in Oregon.
He and Carol have six children and 11 grandchildren who range in age from 18 months to 22 years. Most live in the mid-valley, although some grandchildren live in Minnesota.
“We get back there every year,” Triebes said. “I pull our boat back and we stay in a cabin on a lake there. We usually take one or two of the grandkids with us and we have a lot of fun.”
Over the years, Triebes has enjoyed being a member of the Rotary Club, serving on the board of directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and helping with the local Boys & Girls Club and ABC House programs.
“In all honesty, being the CEO of this operation takes a lot of time,” Triebes said. “It takes focus. I enjoy golfing, but I’m not very good at it and I like to fish.”
He and Carol also enjoy hiking and biking when they get a chance.
“Like anyone else, I have some mixed feelings about this, I’ve never retired before,” Triebes said. “I don’t really want to make a big deal out of this. It’s just the right time.”
Triebes will be succeeded by Dan Keteri, currently vice president of patient care services.
Keteri brings 32 years experience as a Registered Nurse and administrator to the post. Keteri grew up in northern Michigan and graduated from Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan, in 1987.
He previously worked at hospitals in Hawaii and Washington State at one tune was responsible for 1,900 employees at a 454-bed hospital.
He came to Samaritan Albany General Hospital in 2015.
“While I will certainly miss Dave, I am excited that Dan Keteri has accepted the CEO position at Albany,” Boysen said. “Dan has been with the system over four years and has proven to be a great leader, cultural fit and cares deeply about our employees and patients. I know that Dan will accomplish great things.”