Former Regional West CEO Todd Sorensen made big impact on community
SCOTTSBLUFF — Local leaders are remembering the role of Dr. Todd Sorensen, who lead the region’s largest hospital for more than a decade, this week.
Sorensen, who served as CEO of Regional West Health Services from 2000 until his retirement in 2015, died at his home on May 21 at the age of 73.
Todd spent his youth in Scottsbluff and graduated from high school in 1964.
After graduation from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine in 1971, which included a residency in Denver, he returned to Scottsbluff in 1976 to start his medical practice. He later earned a master’s in medical management from the University of Wisconsin in 1994 before assuming leadership of Regional West.
Hod Kosman, Regional West Health Services Board chairman, said Sorensen and his father, C.N. Sorensen, were driving forces for the advancement of medical services in the community.
“After medical school, Todd and a group of his fellow physicians opened an internal medicine practice in Scottsbluff,” Kosman said. “That elevated the level of care locally and really made us a medical center.”
During his tenure, the hospital entered into partnership with Poudre Valley Health Systems in Fort Collins, Colorado. From that partnership was created the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, which stepped up the level of care available to the local community.
He was also instrumental in the development of Community Health Connection, a program that builds alliances and partnerships in hospitals across western Nebraska.
Jeff Tracy, health center director at Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, said Sorensen was a friend to the clinic. As hospital administrator, Sorensen always made sure there was a smooth working relationship between the two groups.
“He was always willing to look at initiatives that would help the continuity of care between the hospital and our clinic,” Tracy said. “He wanted to assure the patients we see, primarily low-income, uninsured patients, were able to receive services at the hospital.”
Local attorney Tom Holyoke knew Sorenson in several different areas.
“The guy had an insatiable intellectual curiosity,” Holyoke said. “He was interested in a huge variety of things. When he was interested in something, he read about it and followed up on it.”
Holyoke was on the hospital board during Sorensen’s tenure and he said it was always a pleasure to work with him.
Holyoke and Sorenson also shared an interest in antique cars from their participation in the Sugar Valley Rally. The father-son team of Todd and Nick Sorenson ran their car in the rally for numerous years.
Motorcycles were another shared interest, as Holyoke and Sorensen were part of a group that took a couple of trips to Death Valley in California.
Sorensen had a diverse background. Before getting into medicine some of his early jobs included cleaning equipment for a local implement dealer and working on the kill floor at a local packing plant.
Later in life, he would become a supportive board member of Scottsbluff Schools, YMCA, Oregon Trail Community Foundation, Sugar Valley Rally and Rotary, among others.
In 2004, he was named the Visionary Super Star by the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Trumbull, Regional West Medical Center Board chairman, said he was the kind of person who could tear down an engine just as well as he could lead a hospital.
“Todd always had an open-door policy, even when people in his position had more meetings scheduled than they had time for,” Trumbull said. “He always had time for us to help us understand the complexities of health care.”
Kosman said Sorensen was a wonderful family and community person who had the right skills for whatever position he was in.
“He was a good friend for us all, absolutely.”
A memorial service for Todd Sorensen is scheduled for May 29 at 1 p.m. at the Gering Civic Center.