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St. Elizabeth Hospital leader announces plans to retire

St. Elizabeth Hospital leader Dennis Popp has announced plans to retire. - Photo courtesy Franciscan Health System
St. Elizabeth Hospital leader Dennis Popp has announced plans to retire.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Franciscan Health System

St. Elizabeth Hospital President Dennis Popp, who has successfully led efforts to expand medical services on the Enumclaw Plateau for 25 years, has announced his intention to begin transitioning toward retirement.

He has not set a specific date to retire, giving the Franciscan Health System sufficient time to recruit his successor as president of Enumclaw’s hospital.

“Until a new president for St. Elizabeth is found, it’s business-as-usual,” said Franciscan Chief Operating Officer Cliff Robertson. “Dennis has graciously provided me plenty of notice to allow ample time to recruit his successor, a process that will involve the St. Elizabeth Hospital Board of Directors and the medical staff, among others.”

Popp notified hospital board members of his plan in June. He has been a health care leader in Enumclaw and southeast King County since 1985 when he became chief administrator of then-Community Memorial Hospital in Enumclaw (the name changed to Enumclaw Community Hospital in 1999 and to Enumclaw Regional Hospital in 2006).

He guided the hospital as it expanded services to meet the needs of the growing community. He also helped to recruit many of the physicians who practice in Enumclaw and other Plateau communities today.

Additionally, Popp had a critical role in Enumclaw’s hospital earning Critical Access Hospital designation from the federal government in 2004, which helped stabilize the facility’s economic base.

“I would not trade the past 25 years for anything,” said Popp, who received the 2008 Joe Hopkins Memorial Award for leadership from the Washington State Hospital Association.

Popp was also extensively involved in Enumclaw Regional Hospital’s affiliation with the Tacoma-based Franciscan Health System in May 2007.

Through his leadership, the long-term future of high-quality health care for Enumclaw and other Plateau communities was secured by the historic affiliation with the Franciscan organization.

That affiliation led to construction of St. Elizabeth Hospital, which opened in February 2011 and replaced aging Enumclaw Regional Hospital. Popp provided executive leadership for the $75 million project and he has served as president of St. Elizabeth since its opening.

“The Enumclaw community will always have a special place in my heart,” Popp said. “Still, the time is right for me to begin looking toward the next chapter in my life and career. I am excited about the possibilities.”

Popp will remain president of St. Elizabeth Hospital until his successor is named, possibly toward the end of 2011. The Franciscan organization will conduct a national search as part of its comprehensive recruitment process for senior leadership positions.

“I’m glad that we’ll have the opportunity to continue working with Dennis for the next several months,” Dr. Robertson said. “When he does retire, Dennis will leave a rich legacy of service in Enumclaw and other communities on the Plateau.”

St. Elizabeth Hospital has about 270 employees. It is licensed for 38 beds, but operates with 25 beds and four patient observation rooms as a Critical Access Hospital.St. Elizabeth is one of five acute-care hospitals in the Franciscan Health System.

The others are St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; and St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor. The Franciscan organization also includes a large network of primary care and specialty care clinics in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties. Enumclaw Medical Center is part of that network, called Franciscan Medical Group.

This is a press release from Franciscan Health System.

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