“The hospital grew in its technological capability, grew in its medical capability, and it grew physically,” says Dresser, 86, whose overall career arc led to his selection for the American College of Healthcare Executives 2010 Lifetime Service Award.
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“The hospital was the first in the Twin Cities area to move out into the suburbs to take care of people where they lived, rather than where they worked,” Dresser says. “During that period, the advent of Medicare and Medicaid changed health delivery dramatically, and there were also tremendous advances in medical technology and the science of medical practice. We tried to stay abreast of those changes.”
Federal legislation provided incentives to develop specialties in areas such as heart, cancer and stroke, Dresser says, while the high-profile death of singer Karen Carpenter from bulimia helped to spur awareness of eating disorders. “We were the first hospital that developed a multispecialty inpatient service to treat that particular disease,” he says.
Dresser became active with the ACHE after receiving his master's degree in 1949, serving as regent from 1974 to 1976 and governor from 1977 to 1980, and going through the chairman officer sequence from 1981 to 1984.
“I've always been interested in the college because it gave me a tremendous opportunity for lifelong learning,” Dresser says. “They always had dynamic programs to help you grow as our field grew. It gave me an opportunity to network with people from all over the country.”
During Dresser's time in leadership, the ACHE began its recertification program and undertook its first comprehensive strategic planning effort. “I hasten to say that these weren't projects that I was the sole person involved,” he says. “They happened during my tenure as chair.”