Tuality Healthcare is about to experience a major changing of the guard.

Dick Stenson, president and chief executive officer of the Hillsboro-based health care company for the past 21 years, has announced he’ll retire soon. When he goes, he’ll be handing off his responsibilities to longtime administrator and chief operating officer Manuel “Manny” Berman.

“As I celebrated my 66th birthday this summer, I stopped to reflect on where I am in my life and what is most important to me now,” Stenson wrote in a Sept. 13 letter to employees. “Tuality is about to launch an aggressive new long-range strategic plan focused on growth. I am excited about this new direction.

“However, after discussions with my family and the board of directors, I have decided this is probably the best time to plan my retirement and let someone else lead the next charge.”

Stenson, who became Tuality’s CEO in 1992, plans to remain as a special advisor to the board through February 2014 and retire that same month.

During his tenure, Stenson, a Forest Grove resident, presided over the development of the Hillsboro Health & Education District, Tuality’s Breast Health Center and the Tuality/OHSU Cancer Center.

Berman will immediately assume leadership of Tuality’s strategic planning process, which includes a possible expansion of Tuality Forest Grove Hospital on Maple Street.

In 2012, Tuality entered into affiliation discussions with Providence Health & Services, but balked at any talk of a sale largely because Stenson wanted to maintain Tuality’s independent hospital status in western Washington County.

With Kaiser Permanente opening the new 126-bed Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro in August, however, it’s clear the heat is on. Kaiser has attracted some of Tuality’s 1,525 employees, and its emergency room competes with the one on Tuality’s Hillsboro campus.

According to the online nonprofit compensation report, Stenson earned a total of $405,293 in salary, deferred compensation and non-taxable benefits between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011, while Berman was paid $230,844.

The Lund Report, an Oregon health care system watchdog, reported April 5 that in 2011, Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro had a net loss of $5.8 million, with net patient revenue down 1.4 percent from a year earlier.

Spokesman Gerry Ewing said Monday that Tuality Healthcare actually had a profit of roughly $4.5 million for fiscal year 2011. But that same year, it changed the way it funds its pension plan for employees.

“That change cost the company about $10 million,” Ewing said. “When you apply that $10 million to the profit of $4.5 million, it ends up being a loss of around $5.5 [million]. So, the bottom line is, the documents we file with the state show a loss of around $5.5 million. In actuality, the company made money in 2011.”

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