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TODAY news for Thursday, December 17, 2007

Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center news

Dr. Behrens announces retirement plans

B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS
B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS
B. Lyn Behrens, MBBS, president and chief executive officer of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, announced Wednesday, December 12, that she will retire from her leadership positions in March of 2008. Dr. Behrens, who became president of Loma Linda University in 1990, is the first woman to serve as president of this institution.

“Dr. Behrens’ 17-year term as president has been the longest for any president in the institution’s history. She has given outstanding leadership for the institutions on campus,” says Lowell Cooper, MDiv, MPH, chair of the LLUAHSC Board of Trustees and general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Pastor Cooper stated that during Dr. Behrens’ time in office there has been a major redesign of the governance structure and relationship of institutions on the campus. In addition, Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center have experienced remarkable growth and made important contributions for health education and health care regionally and internationally.

“Dr. Behrens has been very effective in creating and leading a team of highly qualified and committed executives,” he added. “She moves to a well-earned retirement from such heavy responsibilities and does so with high admiration and appreciation from the Trustees.”

Although no replacement has been named, Dr. Behrens informed the board chair of her plans six months ago so a smooth transition in leadership could be achieved. Dr. Behrens says the time has come for her to devote more of her time to family.

Pastor Cooper says the Board of Trustees will appoint a search committee to identify a successor, and that they will be looking for a leader with a demonstrated track record in team-building who is a Seventh-day Adventist, who is committed to the mission, and who understands the uniqueness of academic health care institutions.

“It is with a great deal of optimism that I complete my years of service to Loma Linda in this capacity,” Dr. Behrens states. “I believe this institution is poised for unprecedented success in our work as educators of health professionals, scientists and scholars; in our ability to impact health care regionally, nationally and globally; and in our commitment to the mission and heritage of the organization. I have the utmost confidence in the team that remains and I will continue to lend my wholehearted support to the work being done here.”

The last two decades have been ones of epic change for this academic health sciences center, which includes a health sciences university, four medical centers, and more than 600 faculty physicians.

A focus on mission, spirituality, and global reach

Dr. Behrens’ passion for the role of spirituality in healing has been one of the hallmarks of her leadership, and has resulted in increased emphasis in the area of spiritual life and wholeness throughout the organization. She has also cultivated an expanded vision for the organization’s global impact. Among numerous international outreach initiatives has been LLUAHSC’s assistance in the development of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, the first hospital in mainland China to be awarded the Joint Commission International certificate for quality health care.

Faculty and staff participate in mission endeavors in about 60 different countries every year. Currently, a hospital is being upgraded in Kabul, Afghanistan, with the help of Loma Linda University.

Loma Linda enjoys expansion and medical milestones

On-campus expansion has continued to flourish in recent decades. At the forefront of new developments is the building of a 150,000-square-foot Centennial Complex which will be a cutting-edge instructional center for the university’s growing student body, anticipated to swell from 4,000 to 5,000 students by 2010. The complex, largely funded by gifts from donors and foundations, will benefit all eight of the University’s professional schools. It will feature advanced communication technology, smart classrooms, a medical simulation center, and technology to support international outreach, telemedicine, and training for health care professionals in remote sites around the globe.

Other smaller capital campaigns are currently underway to enhance the International Heart Institute, Proton Treatment Center, and the Rehabilitation, Orthopaedic & Neurosciences Institute. The 10-year strategic plan includes the building of a 21st century state-of-the-art pediatric and maternal academic health sciences campus at Loma Linda University.

During Dr. Behrens’ leadership, the organization has realized a host of medical and academic milestones, including:

•    Treatment of the first patient at the Proton Treatment Center
•    Opening of the Behavioral Medicine Center
•    Opening of the Children’s Hospital
•    Implanting the first artificial heart
•    Completion of Drayson Center, a fitness and wellness complex
•    Opening of Coleman and Chan Shun Pavilions and Wong Kerlee International Conference Center
•    Opening of the Center for Joint Replacement
•    Performing Loma Linda’s first stem-cell transplant
•    Implanting the world’s smallest pacemaker into an infant
•    Opening of the School of Pharmacy
•    Opening of the School of Science and Technology

LLUAHSC also conducted the Adventist Health Studies, which were funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. The studies provide an in-depth look at the relationship of lifestyle choices to health and longevity. They are also conducting a landmark study on the role of religion and health.

From LLU’s first pediatric resident to CEO

For Dr. Behrens, who began her journey at LLU as the first and only pediatric resident in 1966, the last four decades have been a harbinger of what is to come. When she arrived more than four decades ago, the institution had no Children’s Hospital, no specialized care for children, and was still unable to save many children who today are now given a new lease on life.

“What has changed so dramatically since I first came to LLU is the impact of the pioneering medical research and state-of-the-art medical care that takes place here. It has been life-transforming for so many people, and it’s been an extraordinary privilege to have been a part of this organization during this time in its history,” says Dr. Behrens. “And yet despite the remarkable changes that have taken place, one thing hasn’t changed. Our people are still relentlessly passionate about health care, about mission, and about excellence. I’m humbled by their commitment to serving humanity, and grateful to have had the privilege to be a part of such an exceptional team.”

Prior to assuming her role as president and CEO, Dr. Behrens served as dean of the School of Medicine, director of the pediatric residency program, and professor of pediatrics at Loma Linda University. She completed her medical education at Sydney University School of Medicine in Australia, her internship at Australia’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Loma Linda University Medical Center, and fellowships in allergy and immunology and pediatric pulmonary from National Jewish Hospital and Research Center/National Asthma Center and University of Colorado Health Sciences.

Dr. Behrens and her husband intend to stay in the area. They have three daughters, a son, and eight grandchildren.

By DeLona Bell with Richard Weismeyer

TODAY news for Thursday, December 17, 2007