Grays Harbor’s two hospital chief executives, a married couple who head up different hospitals, shared the spotlight recently as they were both honored with the prestigious Joe Hopkins Memorial Award by the Washington State Hospital Association.
For the first time in its history, the association awarded two of the honors for outstanding leadership, one to Renée Jensen, CEO of Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma, and one to Grays Harbor Community Hospital CEO Tom Jensen.
They were each recognized for their individual achievement in ensuring acute and primary health care services for their communities.
“Through their tireless commitment, their creativity and their sheer determination, Renée and Tom have ensured that their communities will have health care,” said WSHA board chairman Gregg Davidson. “The awards committee was unanimous in their desire to see both of them recognized. It’s always risky to make an exception, but exceptional people deserve to be recognized.”
The Joe Hopkins Award is named after the former hospital association chairman and hospital administrator who lost his battle with cancer in 1987. The award was created in honor of Hopkins’ outstanding leadership and special qualities of warmth, persistence, insight, hardworking attitude and humor.
Fittingly, Hopkins started as a lab technician at Mark Reed Memorial Hospital, which was built in McCleary in 1954. Under Renée Jensen’s leadership, in 2013 the public hospital district that oversaw Mark Reed built Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma, a state-of-the-art facility that houses emergency, urgent and primary care services.
The Joe Hopkins Award is always announced at association’s annual meeting, and is a closely guarded secret until it’s announced.
“It was a unanimous decision by our selection committee,” Davidson said. “And that decision was that there are two extraordinary leaders, both equally deserving of this year’s Joe Hopkins Award.”
Renée Jensen has served as CEO since 2007, beginning at Mark Reed Hospital in McCleary. She secured the first USDA loan for hospital construction in Washington state for $19.5 million. In 2013 the $23 million build of Summit Pacific Medical Center was complete and open to the public, and the former hospital was closed.
Prior to her tenure at Summit Pacific Medical Center, she worked for the Columbia County Health System in Dayton. She actively participates in advocacy efforts in Olympia and Washington, D.C., and has been recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal with their 40 under Forty Award for 2014.
Like many local Washington residents, Tom Jensen worked in commercial fishing during and after college. He then became involved in construction of health care facilities. While working on a hospital project, he was recruited by their chief financial officer and in 1998, and became the director of finance for Inland Northwest Health Services in Spokane. From there, he became director of operations for St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. In 2008, he was recruited as the CEO for Coulee Medical Center. He has been President/CEO of Grays Harbor Community Hospital since 2010.