Even before Dean Ward joined the staff of Sutter Medical Foundation (SMF) in 2007 as the administrator of the Surgery and Endoscopy Center facilities in Yuba City, he had established a relationship with the Foundation's philanthropic committee. As soon as he became an employee, Ward authorized deductions of a portion of his paycheck to contribute to Sutter Medical Foundation. In addition, he volunteered to serve on the committee for Sutter Medical Foundation’s annual Swing Into Health Golf Classic benefit.
“I volunteered for the committee so I wouldn’t have to play – because I’m pretty bad – but I end up playing every year anyway,” Ward says. “They often need another player to fill out a foursome, and they’ve been kind enough to invite me to play – although I’m typically the last one they ask,” he adds laughing. He was asked to chair the committee for this year's tournament.
Ward, who also supervised operations of the GI and Pain Management Clinic and the Anesthesia Department, oversaw conversion to an electronic health record system at the surgery and endoscopy center, was instrumental in establishing the pain management program, and played a key role in launching the Tats Off tattoo removal community benefit program.
“Philanthropic donations enabled purchase of a specialized tattoo removal laser that physicians use to help people who want to repudiate their past involvement in gangs,” Ward explains about the Tats Off program, which his payroll deductions help support.
“Participating physicians eradicate tattoos that would impair the ability of people to become employed. I began making contributions to that program, and I additionally support other priorities within our GI department.”
Ward says that philanthropic involvement of local community members enable operation of those and other important programs.
“I've been working with the local Geweke Foundation, which made a substantial contribution toward purchase of a Faxitron radiography unit, technology that enables imaging of biopsied breast tissue within a surgical suite while the patient is under sedation. The Faxitron scans the specimen and the surgeon can immediately verify the margins to assure that all of the affected tissue has been excised. Without the Faxitron we have to send the tissue off site to a separate imaging facility while the patient remains under anesthesia and the surgical team waits for results. Use of the Faxitron is much more efficient and easier on the patient.”
Sutter philanthropy programs serve the best interest of the community. – Dean Ward
Ward first became acquainted with SMF during the three years he was an administrator with Health Inventures, a company that had managed the Sutter Ambulatory Surgery Center facilities. That position brought him into contact with the Sutter Health philanthropic committee when he requested assistance in funding needed equipment. In October 2007, the Foundation asked Ward to manage those facilities in house, and he readily agreed.
“When the management company’s contract was up, David Yamamoto, the division executive for Sutter Medical Foundation in Yuba City, asked me to continue as the administrator for the surgery center, which I was very happy to do. My wife, Karen, my sons, Michael and Daniel, my daughter, Emma, and I love this community.”
“I was, and still am, very impressed with Sutter Health as an organization. I’m blessed to have an amazing staff of fabulous surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and administrative personnel.”
Ward’s healthcare management career spans more than 30 years, beginning with development and coordination of a drug and alcohol treatment program for adolescents in a hospital in the Southern California community of Cerritos.
Ward grew up in the Los Angeles County community of Pico Rivera, where his father, Don, was a truck driver, and his mother, Olga, worked as a secretary. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Whittier College with the intention of becoming a counselor. A friend who was working at a hospital introduced him to new possibilities in the healthcare field.
“My mom and dad had instilled in me the importance of giving back to society. I have been fortunate enough to forge a career out of that ambition,” Ward says.
By the middle of this past June, Ward already had begun preparations for this year’s Swing Into Health Golf Classic, to be held on Sept. 27 at the Peachtree Golf and Country Club in Marysville.
“It’s an enjoyable event that reflects participants' confidence in Sutter Health for managing those philanthropic dollars in a way that's in the best interest of the community,” Ward says.
Joking that “my handicap is my club,” Ward has discussed renting the 1980 golfing comedy movie Caddyshack to study Rodney Dangerfield’s moves and Chevy Chase’s “be the ball” strategy.
“I actually went out and bought a new pair of golf shoes and a club; I figured I'd actually practice this time,” Dean adds, laughing. And he has a fallback ready for criticism about any missed shots: he’ll blame it on gopher holes.