Carrie’s and my first encounter with then-named Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital was on May 6, 1982. Our second son Christopher Ryan Horton was born in the hospital’s new-ish birthing center… a unique place where fathers could participate in child delivery in a modern room with forested wallpaper and the whole thing feeling much more relaxed than certainly our first, at a less personal hospital.
Just that year, we had moved from the San Fernando Valley to our first Santa Clarita Valley home, “Village Homes North,” located exactly adjacent to the west side of HMNMH and separated only by a block wall. We could literally walk down the street, go around the wall, and be right there. Our “neighborhood” hospital was as “neighborhoody” and neighborly as a hospital might be.
But back then, while feeling neighborly, 40 years ago HMNMH was still young, relatively underfunded, and offered limited services. Medicine was advancing quickly, and the hospital suffered financially keeping up with rapid changes and demands — and on top, coping through a devastating earthquake.
At times, our neighborhood hospital’s fate seemed up for grabs with fate uncertain, as financial realities and the changing medical landscape pulled in many directions.
Enter Roger Seaver to our rescue.
On April 1, 2001, Roger E. Seaver was officially hired as CEO of what would later be become Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
On arrival, Roger went straight to work sorting out lingering problems. Previously an auditor, working up to CEO at Lutheran Hospital Society, Roger had the experience and tools to make things right.
Impaired finances and variable customer satisfaction topped the “must do” list – both issues critical to the hospital’s survival and future advancement.
Great CEOs identify key needs and metrics and create and manage initiatives to hit targets and achieve results, and soon Roger led the charge and rapid change to the quality advancements we’ve come to associate with the pride of our valley, HMNH.
Under Roger’s guidance, HMNH added the Roberta G. Veloz Cardiovascular Center and the ability to treat cardiac patients with everything from stents to open heart surgeries. Later came the important additions of the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Center, and the Kim and Steven Ullman NICU.
Seaver, with the aid of The Newhall Land and Farming Co., developed a successful community fundraising campaign and soon the much-needed new and expanded emergency room became a reality.
And that’s where I first met Roger Seaver.
Along with hundreds of other local community-minded firms and individuals, Newhall Land recruited my company Landscape Development Inc. as major donors. Roger’s personable presence and emphatic communication galvanized our community to our critical need of HMNH expansion and, in the process, greatly enhanced our appreciation of all the services the hospital and its team of medical professionals provide.
Today it seems most everyone in the SCV has seen the inside of the HMNH emergency room facilities. Indeed, the vast majority of hospital admissions come through the emergency room doors, as unexpected medical emergencies continue to surprise all of us.
Plainly, our town would be seriously at risk without Roger’s foresight and follow-through, from concept, to funding, to completion, of our valuable emergency room and intensive care unit facilities.
Most recently, HMNH completed its attractive and state-of-the-art new patient tower. Featuring 90 beautiful and efficient private rooms, new private birthing facilities, and other advanced services, HMNH today provides best-in-class care and peace of mind to patients across our valley.
And little more than just one year ago, who would have imagined HMNH becoming the regional center for intensive COVID-19 response. Amidst almost insurmountable challenges and under Seaver’s steady hand and direction, HMNH mustered, redirected and retooled resources, managing through the crisis with more than 100 COVID-19 patients in house concurrently at one point during the surge.
In time, the hospital went on to service more than 1,200 hospital COVID-19 admissions, most in dedicated COVID-19 and special ICU rooms. Pressed far beyond normal capacity during the worst of COVID-19, HMNH today is pleased to report but four COVID-19 patients currently receiving treatment.
Providing testing, treatment and now vaccination, HMNH proved a total godsend for thousands of families through our common COVID-19 crisis.
Imagine our valley without HMNH! Imagine where we’d be without our now four-star hospital, with all its related adjacent services? Imagine the SCV without HMNH’s emergency rooms, trauma center, ICU, emergency heart responses and breast cancer care.
And now, imagine what on Earth would have happened without HMNH present to serve our community’s 1,200 most severe COVID-19 victims?
So, a heartfelt, “Thank you,” HMNH CEO Roger Seaver. Few people have impacted so many so personally and dearly as Roger has.
Congratulations, Roger for your impressive 20 years of achievements for our hospital and our valley. May there be many more to come.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.