Medical Center chief retires
Bryan Ballard woke up Monday morning with nothing he necessarily had to do.
It was his first official day of retirement after about six years as chief executive officer at Catalina Island Medical Center. The phone rang. Out of habit he answered it by saying, “Good morning. Administration. May I help you?”
“I guess it still hadn’t sunk in,” Ballard said. “I think it will take a little time for me to completely realize it.”
Ballard’s retirement has been a long time coming. He has been on his chosen career path for most of his life. He decided to work in hospital administration as early as the 10th grade. He made up his mind to enter the field after attending a high school career day and then working in a few hospitals, performing various tasks.
“I had considered entering the medical field, but I realized I enjoyed being involved in bringing all of these elements together,” he said. Regarding his time with the medical center in Avalon, Ballard said it has been personally rewarding seeing the forward strides the facility has made during his tenure.
“The thing I am most proud of is the great staff at the hospital and the ways we’ve found to collectively serve the community and bring that culture into an emphasis on the patient,” he said. “I’m really pleased with our success in recruiting a clinical and physician staff with great, contemporary training.”
Ballard has also seen the medical center acquire more technology, including more lab equipment and a new, state of the art CT scanner.
“It is going to be a big benefit to the community,” Ballard said. “The physicians can do more scans here and the patients will not have to be medi-vacced off the Island.”
Another technological step forward for the center is being able to retrieve medical records electronically.
“The new technology is going to continue to evolve and be fundamental to the hospital going forward,” Ballard said.
As for future work, Ballard said he has no plans, but might take on projects from time to time if they appeal to him.
Ballard and his wife, Garla Kay, whom he met in 10th grade, moved to Avalon when he took the position with the medical center in January of 2007.
“My wife and I moved from the mainland and have been living here in Avalon the entire time,” he said. “It’s the greatest community to get involved in. It’s a little overwhelming initially to figure out all of the activities to take advantage of and all the Island has to offer.”
The Ballards have been familiar faces at many social and civic events since they came to the Island. They plan to stay in Avalon for at least the next few months.
“We still haven’t decided where our next home base will be,” he said. “We will probably have two bases, one in the Delta area up north and also one in Southern California. We will also have time now to travel and visit the kids and see our grandchildren and have time to volunteer and do some other activities.”
Ballard said he and Garla Kay enjoy music together and he likes to ride his motorcycle on the mainland. He is also an avid photographer and plans to spend more time in that activity, which has helped him create a record and “a lifetime of memories.”
“We will come back to the Island from time to time,” he said. “Once you’ve lived here, it becomes a part of you. We have made a lot of friends and we want to keep those relationships alive. The Island has been fantastic to us.”
To that end, Ballard recently sent out the e-mail blast below to all his Island friends:
“You may have heard I’m continuing the celebration of life through retirement—it’s true as of now. It has been an incredible journey and I’ve been deeply blessed to have you be an important part of making it so!
I did not want the moment to slip away without you knowing that I’ve appreciated what it is you’ve done to help me as a friend, a colleague, a business associate (and sometimes all of these and more). With your assistance, we’ve made a difference with the patients in the communities I’ve been led to serve. Thank you for your companionship and help.
“As ever changing as life can be, I didn’t want us to lose the thread of our electronic connectedness and so, I am providing my home e-mail address (email@example.com) should there be the opportunity for us to talk again.
“Thank you one and all!”
Garla Kay and Bryan Ballard pose for a photo on Wednesday outside the Catalina Islander Newspaper office. Bryan has retired as the chief executive officer for theCatalina Island Medical Center.
Photo by Dennis Kaiser