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Mason Health chief medical officer retiring

Gushee retires after 30 years in Shelton

Dr. Dean Gushee, the chief medical officer at Mason Health, is retiring after 30 years with the organization.

Gushee's retirement is effective at the end of the year. He'll be replaced by Dr. Darren Cuevas, a doctor of osteopathic medicine.

"We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Gushee, our retiring chief medical officer," Mason Health Chief Executive Officer Eric Moll said in a news release. "Dr. Gushee's remarkable 30-plus career with Mason Health has been marked by transformative achievements and a steadfast commitment to excellence. Under his leadership, our institution has evolved and flourished, witnessing incredible improvements and innovations that have significantly impacted patient care and our community's well-being."

Gushee, 65, joined Mason Health in August 1993 and was the medical director for the emergency department for 22 years. In February 2015, he became the chief medical officer.

In an interview with the Journal on Tuesday, Gushee recalled that he was teaching in the residency program at the University of California, San Francisco. Tired of California's Central Valley, he headed to the Northwest with an interest in joining the staff at the emergency medicine program at the University of Washington. His new job in Shelton "would be the stepping stone to the university," he said.

Instead, he stayed with Mason Health. He found Mason Health "a forward thinking, always thinking ... creative organization," he said.

When the COVID pandemic struck in early 2020, "it became an enormous team effort," Gushee said. The hospital's leadership teams rose to the occasion, he said. He recalls staff members having to adjust to rules and procedures that sometimes changed several times during a day. For a year, he met almost daily with the emergency management team with Mason County.

Gushee said he'll miss his colleagues. "It's been a great team here," he said.

He plans to stay in the area and do some "extreme travel," including swimming with sharks - he also has a master's degree in oceanography from Oregon State University.

And his advice to his successors? "Think about how you're going to evolve your career so it's satisfying at every stage," he said.

Cuevas joined Mason Health in September 2018. He earned a doctorate of osteopathic training degree at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona and completed his family medicine residency at St. Joseph's Hospital at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

In 2022, Cuevas became certified in diving medicine by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society and can follow up with patients about diving concerns and complete recreational facilities for dive medicine. This year, Cuevas won the Leadership in Rural Medicine Health Care Champion Awards from the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Thurston-Mason Medical Society.

"Dr. Cuevas brings an exceptional blend of leadership, collaboration and dedication to his new role," Moll said in the news release. "Over his tenure with Mason Health, he has consistently demonstrated a commitment to patient care, innovative practices, and the growth and development of our medical staff. His ability to lead by example, foster open communication, and drive positive change will undoubtedly elevate our medical team and contribute to our continued success. His approach to enhancing our health care services and nurturing a supportive environment aligns perfectly with our organization's mission and values."

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
[email protected]


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