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Great Plains Health CEO to retire in December

Monday, March 1, 2021

CONTACT:Megan McGown, marketing manager | Office: 308.568.7531

North Platte, Neb, March 1, 2021 – The Great Plains Health Board of Directors announced today that Great Plains Health Chief Executive Officer Mel McNea will retire this December. McNea’s distinguished career with Great Plains Health spans more than 30 years, serving seven of those years as chief executive officer.

A national and local search will begin immediately to name McNea’s successor.

McNea began his healthcare career at Great Plains Health in 1987 as an ultrasound technician. McNea was quickly promoted to director of diagnostic imaging, leading that department through tremendous growth in volume and changes in technology and process improvement. In 2004, he was promoted to vice president of operations, which later changed to chief operations officer. He was appointed chief executive officer in 2014. McNea was recognized as CEO of the Year by the North Platte Chamber and Development Corporation as well as being distinguished with the prestigious Nebraska Hospital Association’s Excellence in Service Award. Under McNea’s leadership, Great Plains Health was named one of 19 Top Rural Hospitals in the nation by the national quality evaluation group The Leapfrog Group in both 2019 and 2020.

“We want to thank Mel for his tireless dedication, leadership and unwavering commitment to patients, staff, physicians and the community. He has led Great Plains Health through a period of constant change and has set a clear and strategic vision that has produced tremendous growth and improved quality and experience for our patients, said Dr. Ned Mack, Great Plains Health Board chairman. “Mel positioned Great Plains Health well to exceed the growing healthcare needs of our region and to become the most trusted healthcare community in the region. He will, no doubt, leave a lasting legacy.”

“Looking back over my 32 years at Great Plains Health, I am so proud of the passion and commitment that our employees bring to patient care every day of their lives,” said McNea. “Whether in the midst of a pandemic or in the daily quest for excellence, I am so proud of the work that we have done together to improve healthcare for our region.”

McNea grew up in rural North Dakota and saw first-hand through his parents’ journey in healthcare what lack of services can do. He vowed to work tirelessly to ensure that patients in this region, not only would not have to travel far for their care, but more importantly, would not have to settle for lower quality simply because they live in a rural area, said Mack.

Under McNea’s leadership Great Plains Health has experienced unprecedented growth, quality improvement and expansion. During his tenure, Great Plains Health has grown by more than 300 employees and 18 specialties in the past seven years.

According to Mack, McNea’s genuine leadership and passion for healthcare excellence have brought many successful strategic initiatives to fruition, including the addition of a heart and vascular program, a new patient tower, a new medical office building, the development of the Great Plains Physician Network, a clinically integrated network, a wound healing center, the first mobile CT program in western Nebraska and, most recently, the first neurosurgery program in this part of the state.

Prior to his tenure at Great Plains Health, McNea was the director of radiology at St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neil, Nebraska, and at St. Andrew's Hospital in Bottineau, North Dakota.

“McNea has led healthcare transformation in west-central Nebraska with passion, integrity and boundless energy, all with one goal in mind – to improve access to healthcare to the citizens of western Nebraska, eastern Colorado and northern Kansas,” said Mack.

“Mel’s steady leadership will be missed not only at Great Plains Health, but in the community as well. While he will still be part of Great Plains Health until December, there is much work to be done in the meantime to fill his shoes,” said Mack.


About Great Plains Health

Based in North Platte, Nebraska, Great Plains Health is a fully accredited, 116-bed acute-care regional medical center serving western and central Nebraska, northern Kansas and southern South Dakota. With 90 physicians representing nearly 30 medical specialties, the Great Plains Health system offers advanced health care, including heart and vascular, cancer, and orthopedic surgery services. Great Plains Health is a Level III trauma center, and all of its emergency department physicians are residency-trained and board-certified in emergency medicine. The system employs approximately 1,093 employees and serves a geographic area spanning approximately 16,000 square miles.

The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and is home to an American College of Surgeons-accredited cancer center and Level II bariatric surgery program. For more information, visit