United and Kelsey president says time in Montcalm will resonate

By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 10:11 am on Monday, December 09, 2013

Spectrum Health United Hospital President Tina Freese-Decker will leave the hospital this month to take on a system-wide role of longterm planning for Spectrum. Freese-Decker began as president in 2011 and oversaw several large renovations, expansions and growth of the hospital. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

GREENVILLE — In 2003 when scouting United Hospital as a potential candidate for joining the Spectrum Health system, then vice president of strategic planning and development Tina Freese-Decker knew the hospital was headed in the right direction.

Eight years later she joined United, now part of Spectrum, as its president and after three years is turning the reigns over to a longtime business partner.

“I learned a great deal and was really proud to be here,” Freese-Decker said Thursday. Her final day with United was Friday. “The caregivers here and the people here really care about what they do. They really care about the patients and that makes me passionate about what I do. They had a focus on doing what was right.

“There is a focus on quality, a focus on patients and a focus on the experience.”

Spectrum Health United Hospital President Tina Freese-Decker and her successor, Brian Brasser are shown at the hospital’s main lobby Thursday. Brasser takes over next week as Freese-Decker departs for a system-wide role with Spectrum. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

Freese-Decker said not only was that a priority of the staff and administration at the hospital, but in the community as well, something she said was vitally important to the hospital’s success.

“I’ve really felt like I’ve had the support of the community in doing what we need to do in healthcare,” she said. “We’ve been able to grow our facilities in Lakeview, Greenville and Belding.”

Freese-Decker — who guided the hospital through large renovation projects, expansions and the recruiting of physicians — will now take over as vice president and chief advisement officer for the entire Spectrum system.

Her primary duty will be developing a longterm direction for the system for the coming 5 to 10 years.

“I’ll have to focus on the longterm,” Freese-Decker said, adding she hopes to continue moving each of Spectrum’s facilities, including United, forward.

She said her memories in Greenville and the time she spent at United and Kelsey will help her along the way.

“I really enjoyed being here,” she said. “This is an experience that will stay with me forever.”

Taking over for Freese-Decker as president of United and Kelsey hospitals will be Brian Brasser, who was named Freese-Decker’s successor last month. He officially takes over Sunday.

“I’m very excited that Brian is the new president,” said Freese-Decker. “He will be great at it. He will be a great asset to our community and hospital.”

Freese-Decker and Brasser have worked side by side for more than a decade in the Spectrum system, even teaming up to implement on smoke-free campuses across the system.

Brasser said because of that partnership that dates back several years, the transition into taking over for Freese-Decker will go smoothly.

“I feel very fortunate to work beside Tina (at United and Kelsey) for the last two and a half years. I’ve learned so much,” he said. “She’s so inclusive, so as far as a transition, it will be seamless because she included everyone.

“I think she’s done an amazing job inspiring staff across the system in focusing on patients first.”

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