After 43 years of service to Iowa health care, Mercy Health Network President and CEO David Vellinga today announced his intention to retire in 2017.  

David Vellinga
Vellinga, 66, also is a senior executive with Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health.Mercy Health Network is a joint operating venture between the two large national health systems.  

Vellinga has led Mercy Health Network since August 2000. For more than a dozen years he held that position in addition to leading Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines as its president and CEO since his appointment to that position in 1999. He transitioned to a full-time role as Mercy Network's president and CEO in July 2013.

Witt-Kiefer, a nationally known executive search firm, has been retained to assist in the recruitment of Vellinga's successor. A specific date for the transition has not been set, Mercy said in a release.

Mercy Health Network comprises 42 hospitals, more than 200 clinics and numerous other facilities and services across Iowa, eastern Nebraska and western Illinois. The network and its affiliates employ over 17,000 people, including approximately 900 physicians and advanced practice clinicians.  

"Dave has been a strategic leader and a bold advocate for people-centered care," said Sally Jeffcoat, Trinity executive vice president and chair of the Mercy Health Network board. "He has been a pioneer in building Mercy Health Network and other innovative partnerships that enable more access and better care for the communities we serve. We will miss him, and we wish him the very best."

Vellinga came to Central Iowa in January 1999 when he was named president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines. In 2002, he created and began leading a project called "Mercy Momentum," through which the medical center improved and expanded its services and facilities throughout Central Iowa, including the development of a new hospital -- Mercy Medical Center-West Lakes in West Des Moines.

Under his leadership, the Mercy Accountable Care Organization was formed in 2012. Today the Mercy ACO is recognized as being in the top 20 percent of ACOs in the nation, demonstrating an ability to improve the health status of people in its care and reduce their need for health care services.  

Before being appointed president and CEO of Mercy-Des Moines, Vellinga was president and CEO for Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City. While there, he led the merger of two community hospitals to form Mercy-North Iowa and led the expansion of the affiliated network of hospitals to include additional hospitals.

Vellinga also had part-time roles as president of the board and CEO of Mercy (later Trinity) International Health Services. In that role, he traveled 15 times to underdeveloped countries such as Tanzania and Kenya in Africa, Bangladesh in Asia and  Guatemala in Central America, and to the South Pacific islands to assist in developing health improvement projects and facilities.

Vellinga said he is most proud of the strong, positive relationships he has built with colleagues throughout Iowa and the world. "I have been fortunate to work side by side with incredibly talented and dedicated employees, volunteers, board members and doctors," he said. "It's their hard work, commitment to our mission and love of our patients that ensures Mercy's success."