By Mercy's Brad Haller
It takes many hats to run a hospital, and Lori Wightman has worn several. The registered nurse and certified health care executive has managed a professional basketball team, successfully led a governor’s re-election campaign and navigated a career through two decades of health care experience. On Nov. 1, she’ll become president of Mercy Hospital Ada.
“Health care is where I feel connected to purpose and worthwhile work,” Wightman said. “My father was a hospital administrator and my mother was a nurse. I’ve done both.”
Wightman joins Mercy after recently serving as president of Unity Hospital, a 275-bed facility in Fridley, Minnesota. It’s one of several hospitals and clinics in the upper midwest that make up Allina Health, for which Wightman served as senior vice president from 2011 to 2013. Prior to that, Wightman served as president at New Ulm Medical Center in New Ulm, Minnesota, for more than eight years.
“What they call ‘Minnesota nice’ pales in comparison to what my husband and I experienced when we came to Oklahoma,” Wightman said. “I immediately felt welcomed, and I’m honored to have been chosen to work with the great team of caregivers and leaders at Mercy Hospital Ada. There is a bright future for health care in Ada.”
And, she brings along a rich past.
In 1996, Wightman managed the re-election campaign of North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, raising $1 million over five months. Schafer had the highest margin of victory since 1954. Wightman also served as general manager for the FM Beez basketball team, helping them go from last place in the league to winning a championship.
On Nov. 1, the ball gets passed to Wightman by Di Smalley, president of Mercy’s services and hospitals in Oklahoma, who has served as interim president at Mercy Hospital Ada.
“We can’t wait for Lori to bring her experience and vision to Mercy,” Smalley said. “She’s proven over the last 20 years to be a strong leader, and certainly brings a lot to the table.”
Wightman is a fellow and is former governor of the American College of Health Care Executives. She received her master’s degree in health administration from the University of Colorado.