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Hospital CEO settles into her new role

JoDee Tittle sits at her desk in the administration building on the Plumas Hospital campus. The new CEO draws inspiration from the dozens of thank-you notes attached to the bulletin board above her desk. Photo by Debra Moore

JoDee Tittle realized immediately that working for the Plumas Hospital District would mean becoming part of a close-knit community.

The hospital’s chief executive officer sat down for an interview at the end of February, just about three months into her new job.

“This community is very, very friendly,” she said as she recalled standing in the donut shop in East Quincy her first week in town where she met Greg Perkins, the hospital’s head of radiology by chance, and soon everyone else standing in line waiting to buy a treat.

But Tittle is accustomed to small-town living after growing up in rural, eastern Oregon on a cattle ranch.

Tittle and her family — husband Dan, and daughters Jessica, 16; and Brooklyn, 9 —are currently renting a home, but looking forward to buying a site where she can have her horses.

Prior to moving to Quincy, the family has called the coastal town of Bandon, Oregon, home where Tittle served as the CEO of Southern Coos Hospital and Health Center. While she liked the work, she didn’t like the damp climate and yearned to live in an area that experienced the four seasons.

This winter has not let Tittle down.

Why health care?

Tittle, who holds both a bachelor’s and master’s in business, said she was drawn to health care “to have the ability to make a difference.”

She attributes that sentiment at least partially to the loss of her middle daughter to SIDS. “Those kinds of situations either make you or break you,” Tittle said, and decided to take the loss and turn it into something positive, but knew she couldn’t be a clinician.

She began her career in human resources and it slowly evolved into the chief executive role. Her eldest daughter is also planning a career in the medical field.

Coming to Quincy

Tittle recalled receiving an email regarding a chief executive officer position available in Quincy. She was drawn to its proximity to water sports (the family makes an annual pilgrimage to Lake Shasta) and the opportunity to have her horses.

She interviewed first via Skype and then in person. She was impressed by the facility, its employees and how invested the community is. “People care about this place,” she said.

Dr. Jeff Kepple, the former CEO, has helped with the transition. “Knowing he would be here to support me was comforting.”

Key to her approach to leadership is communication. “Consistent communication is important so that we know in real time what’s going on and it can influence our actions.” To that end she has implemented the “department huddle” — an opportunity for employees to meet daily for a few minutes within their own departments. “Each department picks their time,” Tittle said of what would work best for each.

She is also implementing a new form for internal communications and sending managers to leadership training.

Her three current priorities are the consolidation with Indian Valley Health Care District, the implementation of the new Cerner health management records system, and master planning.

Tittle remains impressed with the facility and its employees. “It’s overwhelming the wonderful work they do here,” and she mentions the obstetrics program as an important facet. “I want to be a full service provider,” she said.

When she’s about town she asks people for their thoughts on the hospital and likes to share that positive feedback with the employees. She also encourages people to come to her directly — the public and the staff.

“Can’t let conflict go on for more than 24 hours, because then good work gets put on hold,” said Tittle, who is also a proponent of teamwork.

That spirit extends to her counterparts at Seneca and Eastern Plumas Health Care. She is looking forward to collaborating with them whenever possible.

She recently made a presentation at the American Hospital Association’s conference in Phoenix on rural health leadership and discussed some of the people she met and topics shared. “It proves why it’s important to network and collaborate,” she said.

The Plumas Hospital District Board of Directors meets the first Thursday of each month at 4:30 p.m. in the administration building. The next meeting is tomorrow, March 7, and the public is invited to attend.

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