Grande Ronde Hospital will be ringing in the new year with a new chief executive officer, Jeremy Davis, who transferred from a town in Wyoming but was born and raised in Baker City.

Davis said his interest in the medical field began in high school when he wanted to be a doctor.

“I loved the idea of helping people,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference.”

The slight veer in his career path happened when he realized he loved his business classes just as much — if not more — than his biology and chemistry classes. Davis said after talking with someone he knew who was in administration in the medical field, “the stars aligned.”

Davis never thought he’d be able to work in Northeast Oregon and he’s delighted to again call this neck of the woods home.

“I’m very humbled to be back here,” he said, noting that his decision to transfer to GRH was “personal — it’s not just professional.”

Davis said this is his dream job, helping the community and region where the choices he makes in his position as CEO will affect his family and friends.

“I wouldn’t want for another job,” he said. “I’m going to retire here.”

Davis just finished up his first month in the position and will be closing on his new home this week, he said. His wife and four children are still living in Evanston, Wyoming, where he was the CEO at Evanston Regional Hospital.

Davis has nothing but positives to say about Grande Ronde Hospital and the community.

“I’m getting to understand the culture (at GRH). I’m learning what’s working well and what needs some improving,” he said. “Grande Ronde Hospital has a rich tradition of success. And I plan to keep that going.”

That tradition partly rests on the quality of its physicians, and Davis is aware of the problem of recruiting physicians — and sometimes more specifically their families — to move to a rural area. Davis said he believes his story of being born and raised in Northeast Oregon and then returning to his roots will help him sell the hospital.

“I left and came back and I’ll be staying here,” he said. “There’s a credibility to that. There’s been consistent leadership at this hospital.”

Among his long-term goals is to fill physician vacancies. Davis said GRH is in an excellent position to draw medical personnel to La Grande. He noted that the hospital has some of the best medical machines in the country. GRH is expanding, and it is an integral part of this community.

In his previous position in Evanston, which is just over an hour away from Salt Lake City, Utah, Davis was no stranger to focusing on customer service to retain patients. With nearly 20 hospitals within Salt Lake City, Davis knew the patients had many choices in their physicians. He will draw on his experience there to continually improve the services GRH offers.

He said he’d like to see the hospital remain independent while also providing a complement of services to meet the needs of the community.

“I want us to do it, and do it well,” he said.