PORT ANGELES — Olympic Medical Center commissioners have selected a recently-retired registered nurse and longtime health care professional to fill a vacancy on their board.
Thomas Hightower was appointed to the seven-member panel by unanimous vote Wednesday.
He will be sworn in as the District 3, Position 1 representative Feb. 7, replacing former Commissioner Jim Cammack, who resigned for personal and health reasons in December.
“I feel very honored and humbled to have been selected from such a great group of people who applied,” Hightower said in a Thursday interview.
Hightower began his health care career as a bedside nurse in intensive care and critical care units more than 40 years ago.
He held a variety of leadership positions with hospitals in California and Western Washington before moving to Crescent Bay two years ago.
Hightower was chief clinical officer and interim co-administrator at Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen, where he became familiar with OMC and its public ownership model, from 2003 to 2009.
Most recently, Hightower worked as administrative supervisor at MultiCare Auburn General Hospital.
He was selected as OMC’s next commissioner from a field of 11 applicants, most of whom were highly qualified, officials said.
“Nearly all of them were outstanding,” OMC Commissioner John Nutter said after the appointment Wednesday.
“We truly had eight or nine great applicants.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Mr. Hightower is joining us, particularly with his clinical background,” Nutter added.
“The board has focused on patient-centered care and high quality care, and that additional clinical background will be a very valuable skill set for the board.”
Board Chairman John Beitzel read excerpts from Hightower’s application to convey an alignment with OMC’s core values.
“We are blessed as a community to have a locally controlled hospital with direct and primary responsibility to those it serves,” the application said.
“Given the uncertain times in health care we now face, the key challenge of leadership will be to ensure the survivability and sustainability of this truly valuable resource.”
While working in Aberdeen, Hightower said he met OMC CEO Eric Lewis and was impressed with services that the public hospital district provides.
“It was always in the back of my head,” Hightower said of OMC.
“They’ve developed some very nice partnerships that have worked well to deliver excellent services in the community.”
Hightower will serve until at least the general election in November 2019. Cammack’s six-year term ends in December 2021.
Cammack, who opened Jim’s Pharmacy in Port Angeles in 1983, served on the hospital board for 15 years.
The current OMC board members are Nutter, Beitzel, Jean Hordyk, Jim Leskinovitch, Tom Oblak and Dr. John Miles.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.