For the past 30 years Granite Falls Hospital and Manor Administrator and CEO has bore the responsibility of directing the course of the community's healthcare system. And on Friday the community showed up in grand fashion to thank him for it during retirement celebration at Bootlegger's Supper Club.

For the past 30 years Granite Falls Hospital and Manor Administrator and CEO has bore the responsibility of directing the course of the community’s healthcare system. And on Friday the community showed up in grand fashion to thank him for it during retirement celebration at Bootlegger’s Supper Club.

Gerlach’s family was in attendance to hear hospital and Manor staff, the hospital board and even Minnesota Hospital Association President Lorry Massa, via video, heaped effusive praise for Gerlach’s tireless efforts which have reached across the state. It was a jovial, moving affair that while tearful, overflowed with laughter.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to the community who has always impressed me with their support of the hospital,” said Gerlach. “It’s time for me to hang it up and spend some time on myself, with my wife and I together again.”  

The hospital board would hire Gerlach out of Wadena where he was working as a nursing administrator. In nursing, he said, he certainly could have had a rewarding career, but it was the complexities, challenges and opportunities to make change that pulled Gerlach toward hospital administration.

Arriving in 1986, just after the ‘84 hospital addition was complete, Gerlach would spend next thirty years developing ways to improve and expand service options with respect to the some 50 Manor residents, 270 employees and thousands of area residents amidst a daunting and variable bureaucratic obstacle course.

“Over 30 years things have changed a heckuva a lot. Have we solved every problem and taken care of every need: no. And we probably never will. But we are changing. Every day we change,” Gerlach said.   

In effect, the hospital has grown to offer a great deal of more care options that have served to bolster life and quality of life saving efforts including senior living facility, Granite Ridge Place, a Chemotherapy Infusion unit, an Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service,  Birthing Suites and the new Granite Manor.

The completion of the new Manor, an over decade long project requiring no less than the moving of a mountain, is certainly the cherry on top of Gerlach’s career and ideal note to for him to depart on––especially considering that he accomplished it while having to overcome a string of health issues that began in 2011 and included prostate cancer, a  myelodysplastic syndrome and leukemia.

Said Gerlach, “I feel I should I get out of this business before there is nothing left of me.”
His endurance wouldn’t go unnoticed, however, and he would be given the Denise Rueben Courage Award by the Minnesota Hospital Association, which is given to an individual or organization who has demonstrated great courage in their actions on behalf of Minnesota's hospital patients and their families.

Gerlach, who was a former Chairman and served 10 years with the state hospital association, also received the Stephen Rogness Distinguished Service Award, MHA’s highest honor, in 2010.

Looking forward Gerlach says that he is excited to have some time to himself and with his wife. Family and travelling appear to be on the horizon and he says he looks forward to lake season come spring.

Other than that, he says he isn’t going anywhere. Granite Falls is home to the Gerlachs. And having sacrificed so much of himself for its betterment, he’s earned it.