Leaders in Health Care: Lifetime Achievement Award

Carl Platou, Retired Executive, Fairview Health Services

By Caitlin Hill

A legacy in the local health care community, Carl Platou continues to be sorely missed since his passing in May, 2012.

As a longtime Fairview leader, Platou was hired in 1952, at the age of 29, as the chief administrator of Fairview Hospital, and retired in 1988. Throughout his career, he helped build Fairview from a small hospital into a large, nonprofit health care system. Platou was there from day one-an old yellowed photo shows him taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for Fairview Southdale Hospital on October 1, 1963. The hospital opened two years later as the first "satellite" hospital in the United States.

Under Platou's leadership, the hospital gained a nationally-recognized scoliosis program, hospital rehabilitation services were initiated and the first community hospital psychiatry program was started. In just a few years, Fairview Hospital grew from 140 beds to more than 500.

"Carl laid the foundation and, subsequently, built a great health care organization. His leadership within Fairview and within the community always focused on the best for our communities and the best for the patients we served," said Dan Anderson, president of Fairview community hospitals and former mentee of Platou, in a speech last May honoring Platou, prior to his death.

Before joining Fairview, Platou served as a paratrooper and demolitions expert in the U.S. Army. When he returned from the South Pacific in 1945, he was one of only 10 survivors from his unit of 100 paratroopers. Platou attended the University of Minnesota, where he earned a bachelor's degree and master's degree in health care administration. He continued to maintain his relationship with the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic after retirement and helped facilitate Fairview's partnership with the university.

Over the years, he also mentored dozens of students as interns, residents and fellows, many whom have gone on to lead health care and hospital systems around the country. Most recently, Platou was an active supporter and fundraiser for the University of Minnesota Medical School and its biomedical research park.

"[Platou's] pursuit of excellence and his adherence to Fairview's values of dignity, integrity, service and compassion set the stage for Fairview long into the future," Anderson said.

Lifetime Achievement Special Recognitions

Thomas Reek, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

Not many people can count the times they've worked at one place in decades. But Thomas Reek, former chief executive officer of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, can. Serving in his position for more than 38 years, Reek helped to develop a comprehensive medical campus, which grew from an organization of 80 employees to 900. Payroll grew tremendously with every dollar returning $3 to their communities.

Throughout his career, it was clear that Reek valued partnerships with community services and other prominent medical institutions. In a time when many hospitals were separating themselves from services like nursing homes, ambulance services and home care, Reek formed strategic partnerships to facilitate a full spectrum of services for the community. Additionally, he cultivated partnerships with places like Minneapolis Heart and Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, among others, in order to bring state-of-the-art medical care to a small community.

William Austin, Starkey Hearing Technologies

William Austin, CEO and founder of Starkey Hearing Technologies, has come a long way since he first bought a small ear-mold lab for $13,000 in 1970. Today, Starkey is one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the United States and continues to develop groundbreaking technologies, giving audiologists more tools to provide higher quality care for their patients.

Along with developing state-of-the-art hearing technologies, Austin founded the Starkey Hearing Foundation as a charitable fund. With the mission to promote understanding among people through the gift of hearing, the foundation has traveled to nearly 100 countries to give the gift of hearing to people in need. The foundation currently fits 100,000 hearing aids annually in hearing missions in the United States and around the world, and has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade.

[View the full list of the 2012 Leaders in Health Care winners and finalists here]