Article by Calvin Bratt – originally published in The Lynden Tribune, September 16, 2015

LYNDEN — Anita Tallman is stepping down after 17 years of guiding the Christian Health Care Center, including its 2001 move to the current facility, and recently overseeing the Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center start-up.

Anita Tallman retires and Patrick O'Neill takes over as CEO“A transition is underway and exciting times are ahead,” the executive director said of the change of leadership to Patrick O’Neill.

O’Neill recently came on board as new chief executive officer — a new title encompassing all facets of the 220-employee organization.

With a career spanning more than 23 years, O’Neill has managed nonprofit organizations that serve elders in various stages of life. He served as president/CEO of a retirement community in Spokane and as the administrator of a faith-based nursing home in Tacoma. He also held board positions with several eldercare industry groups and has been called upon to speak as an expert witness.

Most recently, O’Neill worked as campus administrator for a faith-based nonprofit healthcare organization in Des Moines, Washington. That company offers independent living, assisted living, caregiving and home health services, skilled nursing and adult day health on a 43-acre campus.

Just last month, beside the new adult day health and the skilled nursing of CHCC, rehabilitative and physical therapy services are offered in Lynden. The Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center started up in a new building as part of the network of care on the north Lynden campus.

When asked why he decided to accept the new position and relocate to Lynden, O’Neill said, “Our decision was based on two things: the opportunity to help a respected organization and the quality of life Whatcom County has to offer.

“My wife Michelle and I both grew up in small farming communities — she’s from Ritzville, Washington. We tried urban living several times and found we really prefer to live and work in smaller towns. Everyone we spoke with about moving to Lynden really praised the area. We fell in love — the town is beautiful and it immediately felt like home.”

Community culture also played a part in Patrick’s decision. He said it was obvious that the skilled-nursing facility and adult day health programs are thought of highly in the community.

“In this role at CHCC, maintaining quality of care for those we serve is top priority. My initial goal is to use experiences I’ve had at larger nonprofit organizations to help CHCC and the newly formed Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center prepare for the future.

“I’ll be working with the board on strategic planning with a special focus on evolving consumer lifestyle preferences and governmental regulations that impact funding in our industry,” O’Neill said.

Currently on the board are Bill Bode Jr., Kevin DeVries, Herm Fransen, Gary Hall, Ron Hendricks, Karen Kooy, David Kreps, Nicole Terpstra and Ron Wiersma.

Tallman, who plans to move to Boise, Idaho, later this year, said the transition is going well.

“Patrick brings a lot of experience to the table and he has jumped right in. The board and CHCC’s management team have been planning for my retirement for a while. All of our plans are coming together beautifully.”