After 36-year career in hospital finance, Worthington native looks forward to 'next chapter'
Bruce Viessman, former chief financial officer at Worthington Regional Hospital, retired from his position as vice president of operations for the Sanford Health Fargo Network last Friday.
WORTHINGTON — After a career spanning over 36 years, Bruce Viessman, vice president of operations for the Sanford Health Fargo network and former chief financial officer at Worthington Regional Hospital, retired on Friday, March 31.
Born and raised in Worthington, Viessman makes regular trips to his hometown, where his father still lives. In his retirement, he plans for plenty of back and forth travel between Fargo, where he currently lives with his wife, and Worthington.
“We’ve got kids and grandkids in Fargo, so we’re going to remain here and I’ll be spending time with them,” Viessman said of what the future holds, “and I’ve been telling everyone who knows me, I got two new knees, so I’m going to be getting back to the golf course this summer.”
After graduating alongside his wife Mary, also a Worthington native, in 1977, Viessman attended Minnesota State University in Mankato and received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. He went on to obtain his Master of Science degree in management from Marshall’s Southwest Minnesota State University.
A few years later, Viessman joined the team at Worthington Regional Hospital, which would later become Sanford Worthington Medical Center. When he first started, Viessman recalled keeping a whiteboard in his office to keep track of how many checks could be released.
“We really turned that operation around,” he said, noting that by the time the hospital joined with Sanford, there had been two major additions to the facility and funds had increased substantially. “That was a great time at the hospital, with the team, with that staff, the nurses, the physicians and administration. They were all wonderful.”
However, Viessman said that perhaps his biggest pride is the work he did with the community in Worthington while living here. Involved with numerous organizations in town, including the Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Nobles County, King Turkey Day Inc., and the YMCA, Viessman received several commendations for his steadfast community involvement. In 2010, Viessman was awarded the Friend of Education Award for his efforts to help campaign for a school referendum. He also coached basketball and baseball at the YMCA for traveling teams for several years, which Viessman recalled as a great experience.
“I’m very, very proud of the work I did there,” he said. “I got to meet and work with a lot of great people.”
In 2008 Viessman joined Sanford Health, after 21 years as the chief financial officer for the Worthington Hospital. He would go on to become the vice president of operations for Sanford’s Fargo Network in 2017.
“Bruce made countless contributions that will have a lasting impact on our organization,” said Tiffany Lawrence, Sanford Fargo president and CEO. “While leading our network, he built meaningful connections with our rural communities and expanded Sanford into the Grand Forks and Devils Lake markets. His dedicated work helped improve access to health care for our most underserved populations.”
Throughout his long career, Viessman has seen many changes in the medical industry. Recruitment of staff seems like a bigger challenge than it did when he started in the field, and technological advancements like virtual care have been a tremendous game-changer for rural healthcare, he said. The COVID-19 pandemic marked a huge challenge for hospitals everywhere, but Viessman noted he was incredibly proud of staff he worked with throughout that period.
“You hope that that’s a once-in-a-lifetime event that no one has to go through again,” he said, “but what amazed me was the ability of our staff in our rural areas to come together and support each other's families and communities and put that extra effort that we needed to care for patients in the area.”
In Fargo, he noted, the network opened up an additional 172 beds during the pandemic to help provide care. Despite the circumstances during what was “not an easy time,” Viessman said he was proud of the way the industry rose to the challenge.
Fostering a relationship between the hospital and the community was a big accomplishment for Viessman during his years in Worthington, and as he enters retirement, it is that close connection with the community and staff he’s worked with that he said he’ll miss most.
“I’ve had great teams and great staff…I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with and been supported by,” said Viessman. “It’s been a nice long career and I’m really, really satisfied with the career that I’ve had. Now, I’m ready to move to the next chapter.”