In many respects, today is like any other for Coast Plaza Hospital. Just as we have since opening our doors more than 50 years ago, we stand proud and ready to address any emergency our community might face, welcoming one and all in times of need. And yet, though unbeknownst to our many neighbors, patients and friends who have come to look upon the hospital as a constant, fixed entity toward which to turn in the midst of chaos, behind the scenes a torch will shortly be passed from one hospital owner to another.
Under the past twenty-one years of present ownership I have shared the title of Chief Executive Officer with only one other. In this, my final report to the Coast Plaza Hospital community, I would like to honor the individual who held my title for the 12 years before me, my father, Gerald J. Garner, since in my opinion it is his legacy that has made our hospital a name our community has come to trust.
Born December 17, 1936, my father was raised in New York and did not move his family to California until he was 40. It was to be another decade before he assumed the position of Coast Plaza’s CEO, a role he accepted with pride. His sudden death on April 28, 2002 came as a great surprise to both his immediate family and the employees at Coast Plaza, many of whom knew him from the beginning of his tenure.
Today, my father is survived by my mother Joan, my sister Robyn and her husband Keith, my brother Scott and his wife Karen, me and my wife Natalya, and six grandchildren. While he adored Robyn and Keith’s children Tyler and Evan, sadly Gerald never had the chance to meet Scott and Karen’s three children, Espen, Annika, and Helena, or our newborn son Rodion. I like to think he would be proud of the new elements within his family.
Gerald taught many people many things in life, but it was perhaps his passing that taught our hospital family its most important lesson: We achieve greatness together, and only together. I have heard it said that the whole is by nature greater than the sum of its parts, and when it comes to health care in the modern age that is certainly true, be it the correlation between community and hospital, employees and hospital, or even investors and hospital. As different as each of these entities may seem from the others, all three survive only by existing together. Just as the loss of my father affected my immediate family greatly, the transition from old guard to new will have its moments of uncertainty for the Coast Plaza family. Even so, though these past few weeks have given me the opportunity to witness first hand the ways in which change can make for a stressful environment, I have also been pleased to regard the strength and dedication shown by our members in their effort to maintain the superlative standard of health care that our community has come to expect, regardless of any temporary internal fluctuations. Nine years of consistency will undoubtedly lead to a certain amount of confusion for a time, no matter who is waiting in the “on-deck circle.”
But that is what makes a hospital such a special place to work. As chaos tries to rule the day, something happens, and a wake up call of sorts is given, reminding us all of the reason we have come together in this building on any given day. Our daily dose of reality connects us with the real issues at hand, as we remember that our community truly values the support we provide in times of need, just as we do the same for one another. After all, that is what relationships are all about.
Throughout this period of transition, Coast Plaza Hospital did exactly as it should, relying on a network of relationships already in place and building on the new to continue its focus on providing care to the community. In hindsight, the past nine years under my tenure were in many ways defined by these relationships, and our focus was strong. As a result, the community received exactly what it had come to expect and deserve — a first-rate hospital.
Seven months ago I met the individuals who will write the next chapter for Coast Plaza Hospital. They are a competent, generous, able group, to be sure. But though they may steer the course, they will not write this story alone. If there is one fact which Gerald and I knew to be true while tending our posts, it is that the strength of this particular hospital comes not from its leadership, but from the dedication of its nearly 400 stellar employees. Working together for the common good, you are indeed greater than the sum of your parts, and I do not expect that to change.
Regardless of what the future holds for Coast Plaza, there is one thing of which I am sure: The extended family that has for nine years made it an honor and a privilege for me to lead this hospital will continue to provide excellence in care for the people in and around Norwalk. Indeed, that is what health care at Coast Plaza Hospital is all about.
Thank you all.
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