When Concordia’s Healthcare Administration program started 50 years ago, it was filling a much-needed gap – training students to be rural healthcare administrators.
The college’s hospital administration program started in 1966 through funding from the Higher Education Act of 1965. Dr. Paul Dovre recalled how Dr. Ted Heimarck and others from the college worked to secure the funding that would help with program and curriculum development.
Heimarck’s leadership from its inception would earn him the top post of healthcare administration director in the coming years. He also served as the face and driving force of the program for many years.
“It fit for Concordia at the time with most of our students coming from rural areas,” says Dovre, president emeritus. “We were able to give back in the form of educated people in these critical positions throughout the area.”
The program evolved to meet other needs through the years. The college added hospital financial management and then long-term care administration in the 1970s. Dovre credits Heimarck and his openness to new ideas for the forward momentum of the program.
“We developed a national reputation,” Dovre says. “We were the first undergraduate program in healthcare built on a liberal arts education.”
Today the program boasts concentrations in healthcare financial management, healthcare administration, long-term care administration and healthcare leadership.
It has placed dozens of leaders in top posts in healthcare settings including David Horazdovsky ’78. He got his start as the administrator of the Windom, Minn., Good Samaritan Center managing a 96-bed skilled nursing facility and four apartments. He is now the leader of that entire organization serving as the president and CEO of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society.
When Horazdovsky was named one of the college’s Alumni Achievement Award winners, he talked about the compassion and wholistic approach needed for this sort of work.
“I like to think of our work as being about God’s work,” Horazdovsky says, “taking care of bodies, minds and souls.”
It’s that compassion and caring that Shelly Gompf, Concordia’s director of healthcare administration, says carries many of today’s students into the field.
“They can take their passion for healthcare and use it in a business sense,” Gompf says.
And that’s what the program’s current graduates are doing. Gompf rattles off names of recent grads who have been placed in executive roles with excitement and promise for a bright future. The healthcare administration program has between 20 and 30 full-time interns placed each year, many of them in facilities with Concordia alumni ties.
One recent graduate leading from the start is Andrea Major ’15. She is the campus administrator for the Good Samaritan Society in Blackduck, Minn. She says her business healthcare leadership major and her internships helped prepare her well before she became responsible for her organization.
“My passion in healthcare, which I realized through my hands-on experience and guidance from my advisor, is with the elderly,” Major says. “Long-term care is a very challenging field to be in right now. In my position, I am able to make a difference in the lives of our residents by making decisions and putting things into effect that benefits the quality of care and life they deserve.”
And with the current need for all types of healthcare workers, Concordia’s program will be filling a need for at least 50 years to come.