Robert Pastor, a 1996 HFC alumnus, was originally unsure of what he wanted to do, but was leaning toward becoming a physician. 

“At the time, I was hoping to go on to medical school. I thought nursing would give me a taste of the healthcare field and ensure it was a good fit for me, prior to investing in eight years of education,” explained Pastor, a Dearborn native, who recently began his new position as the CEO of Rainy Lake Medical Center (RLMC) in International Falls, MN. 

He continued: “That said, a 2-year nursing degree would also provide me a decent income and allow me to be self-supporting. I would get into nursing, explore the different areas, and find my niche.” 

Pastor – who earned his associate degree in nursing from HFC, where he was the vice-president of the Student Nurses Association (SNA) – quickly learned that he belonged in the healthcare field. As a nurse. Not as a physician. 

“Nursing is a very progressive field. Like Ben Stiller said in Meet the Parents, nursing offers you a lot of opportunities,” said Pastor. “I come from a blue-collar family. My grandfather was a very blue-collar man who encouraged me to go into nursing because nurses will always be needed. Regardless of where you live and how the economy is doing, you’ll always be able to get a job.” 

“Purely by accident” 

Pastor began his career at Oakwood Health System (now Beaumont Health). At Oakwood’s Skilled Nursing Center, Pastor had been a nurse for two years. One night, the nursing supervisor was absent and Pastor became the de facto supervisor for that shift. Several staff members, including the Director of Nursing, were impressed with his quick thinking and decisive leadership. Pastor continued to advance, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of Nursing.

“I got into leadership purely by accident,” said Pastor. “At the time, I was pretty sure I was going to transfer to the acute care hospital to work in their ICU, which would have allowed me to apply to anesthesia school. However, the incident that gave me the opportunity to be a leader really changed my mind. Being a leader ended up being my true calling.” 

Pastor earned his undergraduate degree in business management from Cleary University in 2001. In 2005, he earned his MBA from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, TX. Pastor continues to be a registered nurse and a Green Belt in Six Sigma. He earned his fellow certification from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) – the highest certification in healthcare administration. “The reason I decided to get a bachelor’s degree in business administration was that I needed to learn how to be a better leader and manager. I already knew the patient care side, so I needed to focus on learning more about finance, management, and the business side,” he explained. 

After six years with Oakwood, Pastor left to become the Director of Medical, Surgical, and Pediatrics at Scenic Mountain Center in Big Spring, TX for three years. His Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) at the time, Bonnie Pratt, hired Pastor because of his business degree. 

He remained in this role for three years. Afterward, Pastor went to River Region Medical Center (now Merit Health River Region) in Vicksburg, MS as the Director of Medical/Surgical and Oncology. Pastor had the opportunity to work under Pratt once again. 

“To this day, I consider Bonnie one of my greatest mentors,” said Pastor. “She was an inspiration and very instrumental in my career growth.” 

From there, Pastor became the Director of Hospital Nursing Services at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby, MN. There, he met Andrea, his wife of seven years with whom he has two children, Jack and Everly.

From CCO to CEO 

For the past six years, Pastor has been the Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) for Southwest Health in Platteville, WI, where he is responsible for the direction and management of all patient care services, including radiology, laboratory, rehabilitation services, EMS, pharmacy, risk management, performance improvement/quality care management, diabetes education, all organization nursing service departments, behavioral health services, and inpatient behavioral health. 

“Dan Rohrbach (CEO of Southwest Health) is the best CEO I have ever worked for,” he said. “He’s a strong leader who pushes everyone to be the best they can be. We have had significant success under his and our governing board’s leadership that resulted in our revenue more than doubling in less than five years. Dan also gave me the opportunity to get the experience I needed to become a CEO. Great success always creates great opportunities.” 

Rohrbach is pleased about Pastor’s new opportunity. 

“Robb has been an integral part of our success over the past 6 years at Southwest Health,” he said. “During his time with us, he honed his leadership skills and is fully prepared to be a highly effective CEO. All of us at Southwest Health wish him and his family all the best.”