Born in the American heart- land, Roger Seaver, president and CEO of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, traveled to California to build his life, and to the Santa Clarita Valley to make a difference.
Seaver was born in a Watertown, South Dakota hospital located 30 miles from his home in Garden Village, S.D. His family owned a 600-acre farm where they grew small grains, corn and soybeans.
“It was a small farm for the area,” said Seaver. In addition to the crops, the family also kept a few dairy cows. “Not a big herd, but the cows required you be home twice a day. It didn’t allow for much travel. Traveling occurred only rarely in my youth.”
Seaver’s family farm was located adjacent to his great-grandfather’s prop- erty, which was homesteaded when the Dakota Territory was opened up for settlement in the 1860s. “At one time, there were several Seavers farming in the area,” he said. Today, Seaver and his three brothers moved into careers other than farming. “Nobody in the family is farming now,” he said.
In a trend seen widely across the Midwest, Seaver said his hometown of Garden Village once boasted nearly 200 residents. “Today it probably has 50 people or less,” he said.
U.S. Army Veteran
In 1971, Seaver graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the business school at the University of South Dakota.
“I had made a commitment to the U.S. Army,” he said. After serving
as an ROTC cadet, he was inducted into the U.S. Army as an officer, and sent to officer training school at Fort Benning, Georgia. “It was the location for infantry officer training,” he explained.
Then, as luck, or fortune, would have it, President Richard Nixon initiated a reduction of forces in Vietnam.
“It turned out that they didn’t need us, so we were released from training,” Seaver said.
F.W. Woolworth Co.
Seaver began looking for his first job and found a position in the accounting office of a retail chain located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“It was the central office for the United States, and I spent a few months there auditing retail stores nationally,” he said.
The company, once a dominant presence in the world of retail — in- ternationally and in the U.S. — had a loyal and devoted workforce because they paid employees weekly, in cash, said Seaver.
“That procedure was still in place when I worked there, and I had to audit the stores’ cash,” he said.
Woolworth decided to deploy its auditors in locations across the coun- try and those with the most seniority got the first choice of where they would be sent, said Seaver.
Seaver put in for a transfer to Colorado.
“But the only person senior to me also asked for Colorado,” he said. Seaver was told if he wanted to move West the company needed a person in California.
“I said as long as it is Northern California that would be great,” he said.
The company told him that Southern California and Arizona had “about four times as many stores” as Northern California.
“I ended up getting transferred to Southern California,” he said.
Seaver had been to the Los Angeles area to do audits in the past and he knew if he was going to live in Southern California it would be close to the ocean.
“I wanted to be near the ocean where I would have clean air to breathe,” he said. “I chose Huntington Beach.”
He drove to California from Milwaukee on New Year’s Eve day 1972. Seaver started his California life in 1973 in a newly constructed apartment building in Huntington Beach. The apartment was larger, and less expensive, than his previous apartment in Milwaukee.
“Not many people moving to California have that experience,” he said.
Lutheran Hospital Society
During his first six months on the job at Woolworth, Seaver estimated he had traveled to nearly half the states in the country.
“When I got to California and found I had to travel out of Southern California three or four times a week, I decided my interest in travel was maxed out,” he said. “I didn’t need that type of job anymore.”
With that insight, Seaver began looking for a job that would keep him close to home. He found that job in the internal audit division of the Lutheran Hospital Society in Los Angeles. “That was my entrée into hospitals and set the course of my career,” he said.
An interesting fact: When Newhall Land donated the 25 acres of land in Valencia for a new hospital, it also formed an alliance with the Lutheran Hospital Society, an organization with extensive experience developing community not-for-profit hospitals.
For Seaver, the Lutheran Hospital Society provided him with another important life connection, his wife, Rizalina. “I met my wife there,” he said. They married on July 7, 1977 (7/7/77), and have three children. Plus, they are the proud grandparents of two granddaughters.
Seaver earned his MBA at Pepper- dine University in 1981. He spent 19 years at Glendale Memorial Hospital, working his way up from chief finan- cial officer to chief operating officer to chief executive officer.
His success at Glendale prompted the company to recruit Seaver to take on CEO duties at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in 1997. After
a merger with Catholic Healthcare West (now Dignity Health), Seaver left hospital administration for a consulting job in the technology field.
“I realized when I went through the merger that the difference between working at an independent hospital and in a big system is very signifi- cant,” Seaver said. “It affects personal enjoyment in the job and the ability to make a difference.”
Seaver was named to the position of president and CEO of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, on April 1, 2001.
When he learned of the Henry Mayo position, he was already under consideration for the CEO position in the technology company for which he was consulting.
Nevertheless, Seaver said he jumped at the chance to return to hospital administration.
“I have zero regrets about coming to Henry Mayo,” he said. “It has been a fantastic position.”
The community support of the hospital is very rewarding, said Seaver. Some of that support is evidenced in the success of the upcoming 46th Annual Frontier Toyota/Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital “Drive Safe” Golf Classic.
The May 11 event, to be held at Valencia Country Club, is “an all volunteer driven event,” Seaver said. “It supports important emergency and trauma services for the community.”
In addition, Seaver said the support that Henry Mayo consistently receives from major donors, community leaders and the SCV community makes his colleagues in other communities “envious.”
There are so many successes. “The Roberta Veloz Cardiac Cath Lab is a phenomenal resource for the community,” he said. “Our community is be- ing well served by some of the highest skilled cardiologists in the field.”
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s Kim and Steven Ullman Neonatal In- tensive Care Unit is another example of individuals making a difference.
The Wayne and Connie Spears
Intensive Care Unit and the Sheila R.
Veloz Breast Center were also cited
by Seaver as “fantastic” resources
for the community that never would have possible without the support of individuals and the community.
“These are special moments for Henry Mayo,” he said. “We are the envy of LA County as a community, and I am happy to be part of it.”
Beyond Henry Mayo
Seaver said he has been “honored” to serve as the 2009 chairman of the Southern California Hospital Association representing 100-plus hospitals in six counties, and as the 2013 chairman of the California Hospital Association representing 400 hospitals in the state.
“It is important as an independent hospital, to stay in touch with other hospitals so you can know what is go- ing on in healthcare as whole,” he said “It is important to be on the cutting edge, to keep up to date.”
Seaver also enjoys the opportunity to serve on the Santa Clarita Economic Development Corporation. “It is exciting to see the possibilities of developing good jobs for people,” he said. “There is so much going on in the SCV now, and studies have shown that one of the best predictors of good health is going to work. Economic development is important to the physical health of a community.”
Touching the SCV
Seaver said that many of the hospital employees are SCV residents.
“Our staff lives here in great numbers, and that means that every day some patient, often more than one, is a neighbor, a relative, a friend, or a friend of a friend, of someone on the staff,” he said. “There are a lot of ‘touches’ on a daily basis with the community.”
Seaver said that working to improve, and build an ever more successful community hospital, like Henry Mayo, is personally satisfying. “For me to have a career that makes a difference in other people’s lives is thoroughly rewarding, and I enjoy the opportunity to serve,” he said.
“I am proud of the work we do and of the people who are delivering quality health care.”
For volunteer opportunities, visit www.henrymayo.com/community/ volunteer-services. To donate, visit www.henrymayo.com/support- henry-mayo/giving-opportunities/ ways-to-give/. or call (661) 200-1200.