(Chelsea Update would like to thank Amy Rotter for the information in this story.)
After a decade of transformational leadership that has reshaped St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and the community, hospital President Nancy Graebner-Sundling announced Friday that she plans to retire in March of next year, capping a 48-year career in health care.
A succession planning process has been initiated to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.
Since her appointment in 2012, Graebner-Sundling has led several historic enhancements that significantly improved services for Chelsea and the surrounding communities. The hospital also has amassed national awards from Press Ganey, Leapfrog safety rankings, CMS Five Star, Healthgrades, Newsweek and IBM Watson during her tenure.
“We are grateful for the level of success that Nancy and her team have achieved at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea over the years,” said Rob Casalou, President and CEO, Trinity Health Michigan & Southeast Regions. “Nancy has provided steadfast leadership during periods of tremendous growth and enormous challenges.”
A central accomplishment was the negotiation and implementation of a joint venture agreement with Michigan Medicine in 2018. “Nancy was instrumental in forging our successful joint venture to expand access to services in Chelsea and surrounding communities,” said Jeff Desmond, MD, Chelsea JV Board President, Chief Medical Officer, Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan Health. “Her passion for excellence and profound compassion for patients and the entire community of Chelsea will leave a lasting impact.”
During her time as president, Nancy has led the completion of a two-story Atrium facility expansion that enhanced the Emergency Department and enabled expanded therapies, diagnostic imaging departments, renovation of the lab, pharmacy and sleep center. That was followed by completion of the Comprehensive Cancer Program along with the expansion of the surgical department, growing inpatient rehab capabilities, adding the Michigan Medicine Hospitalist Service, which made it possible to treat higher acuity patients. Recently, the short stay unit was renovated at the Courtyard East patient care unit and the hospital is working to establish a 24/7 urgent care unit in the Emergency Department this fall.
The community hospital has added or expanded services including urology surgery, bariatrics, minimally invasive/robotic surgeries, endocrine, plastics and colorectal surgeries, and care for more serious conditions.
“It has been the honor of my life to be part of a decade of remarkable growth for our hospital, with every action focused on improving the quality of patient care,” said Graebner-Sundling. “As a team, we have worked together to open up more services people need close to home –– all in a comfortable, beautiful campus setting.”
A respected leader in Chelsea, Graebner-Sundling has served on the boards of Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, Chelsea State Bank, Chelsea Senior Center, St. Louis Center Residential Facility, Five Healthy Towns Foundation, Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and she served many more organizations. In recognition of her hospital leadership and service to the community, in 2020 she was named Chelsea Citizen of the Year by the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, and Chelsea State Bank Woman of the Year.
“Nancy’s positive approach and consistent strength in adapting to a remarkably high pace of change in caring for those we serve will stand as the benchmark for years to come. From pandemics to organizational responsibilities to joint ventures – her emphasis on meeting the needs of colleagues and patients sets her apart,” said Jason Lindauer, Chelsea Local Board President, Senior Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor, The Lindauer Group, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. “Throughout her tenure, Nancy’s extraordinary ability to consider the input of all concerned led to the betterment of the hospital and community.”