Committed to Service

October 01, 2003 | Heather Wheeler

Committed to Service

At 35, Morre Dean is the youngest chief executive officer (CEO) in Adventist Health’s 20-hospital system. Five years ago, he was appointed president of Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH), a 72-bed facility located in southeast Washington. Today, his youthful insights, sincere leadership and dedication to Adventist Health’s mission have led to a $4 million financial turnaround at WWGH, a permanent magnetic resonance imager (MRI), a $20 million state-of-the-art retirement center and healthy relations with physicians.

A Simple Plan

Morre grew up in Denver, Colorado, but distinctly remembers spending every childhood summer working on his uncle’s farm in North Dakota. He believes the strong work ethic he possesses today was shaped by this experience. His first career thoughts centered on being a physician, but he soon realized his talents were in other areas. When Morre was 16, he started working at Porter Hospital in Denver. It was a chance meeting with the CEO that turned the lights on.

“All of a sudden I just knew what I wanted to do,” recalls Morre. “From that point forward, everything I did was a stepping stone toward my ultimate goal—to become a hospital CEO.”

Attending Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, Dean pursued a degree in business administration and went on to get his M.B.A. and C.P.A. He took every opportunity that came his way. After a summer internship with Florida Hospital in Orlando, he was asked to return after graduation for a three-year financial management internship. He worked hard and soon was named to an assistant director position. Shortly thereafter, he received an offer to become the director of managed care back at Porter Hospital.

“I’ve always tried to build my health care strengths in three areas: operations, finance and managed care,” says Morre. “I took the job at Porter Hospital because I knew I needed managed care experience to become the best leader I could be.”

Soon he was promoted to vice president of Porter and Littleton Adventist Hospitals, and it wasn’t long before Adventist Health invited him to serve as WWGH president and CEO.

Reaching His Goals

When asked how he has been able to reach his early goals, Morre attributes it to having a game plan. His willingness to tackle challenging situations is another thing that has helped him succeed.

“I’ve always been willing to take on whatever people ask of me. I constantly ask myself what I can to do to help the organization be successful,” he explains. “I don’t think anything is above me or beneath me—as a CEO I would happily go and mop the hospital’s kitchen if I needed to.”

Those who know Morre are quick to say that one of his biggest strengths is the emphasis he places on relationships. He is extremely approachable and always has a kind word and smile for those he meets. His philosophy is simple but is one that many leaders miss—he treats everyone as an equal.

“Everyone knows that it’s important to build relationships with your superiors, but I believe it’s equally important to have relationships with people who look to you for leadership,” Morre says. “It’s nice to have people you report to think you’re great, but it is essential that all who work in the organization think that, too. If I know the names of my employees, and they genuinely respect me and feel like I’m willing to help them with their jobs, that is real success to me.”

According to Larry Dodds, Adventist Health senior vice president and WWGH board chairman, Morre is a shining example of the future of Adventist Health. “We appreciate Morre’s commitment to our mission,” Larry says. “He brings wonderful leadership, dedication, energy and creativity to our organization, and he is always willing to tackle any task. Morre and the many young people across the system are truly the future of Adventist Health.”