New president to take reins at Enumclaw's St. Elizabeth Hospital

There’s a changing of the guard at St. Elizabeth Hospital, as longtime president Dennis Popp transitions into a new position and Donna Russell-Cook prepares to take the reins.

Russell-Cook, who has served as chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Heart Institute-Hospital in Tulsa since 2009, will become president of St. Elizabeth on April 30.

The announcement was made official Monday by Franciscan Health System Chief Operating Officer Dr. Cliff Robertson.

Popp, who has spent 26 years heading the local hospital, has postponed his previously announced retirement to serve as vice president of support services for the Franciscan organization.

“I look forward to joining the Franciscan family and partnering with all the individuals that provide direct patient care, as well as those that manage the continuum of care for our patients and their families,” Russell-Cook said. “I am particularly proud to have been selected to provide leadership for a new, state-of-the-art hospital like St. Elizabeth that is essential to the quality of life for all residents of the Enumclaw Plateau.”

Before becoming CEO of the Oklahoma Heart Institute at Hillcrest Medical Center, she was administrator of the Heart Center at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Prior to that, she served as senior director of cardiovascular and interventional radiology services for the Montana region, based at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings. She has also served as administrator of physician practices at Arnett Clinic in Lafayette, Ind., and managed the preventive health program for The Boeing Co. in Seattle.

She earned a master’s degree in cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation and program administration from the University of Wisconsin, and a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and biochemistry from the University of Nebraska. She is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.

The selection of Russell-Cook to lead St. Elizabeth Hospital concludes an extensive recruiting process and national search.

“We are very fortunate that a health care administrator with Donna’s credentials has agreed to join St. Elizabeth and the Franciscan Health System,” Robertson said. “I know the hospital’s medical staff members and employees will enjoy working with her, and that community members will enjoy meeting her.”

Popp announced in July 2011 that he would begin transitioning toward retirement, a plan he has since postponed at Robertson’s request in order to serve as vice president of support services for the Franciscan organization. In this new role, Popp will provide executive oversight of hospital facilities and property management, laboratory and nephrology services, environmental services, materials management, security services, and food and nutrition services. His office will be in Federal Way.

Popp joined Enumclaw Regional Hospital as chief administrator in 1985 and has served as president of St. Elizabeth since it opened in February 2011(replacing the old hospital).

“The Enumclaw community, and the many friends I have made here, will always have a special place in my heart,” said Popp, recipient of the 2008 Joe Hopkins Memorial Leadership Award from the Washington State Hospital Association. “I would not trade my experiences of the last quarter-century for anything.”


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