GRANGEVILLE A new face in Grangeville will lead Syringa Hospital into the future. Abner King is the hospital’s new CEO.
King was raised in a rural area outside Albuquerque, N.M.
“It was a very remote area,” he said, about the dirt road he grew up on, so remote the nearest neighbor was four miles away.
Following high school, King said he was sure about one thing when it came to future careers: no hospitals.
“The few I had been in were not anywhere I wanted to spend time,” he recalled.
He went on to Southwest Adventist University in Keene, Texas, where he started in the biology field. A friend was studying in the medical technology field and King’s resolve to not work in a hospital-related field diminished.
He received a bachelor of science degree in medical technology and spent his final year of college working hands-on at Florida Hospital in Orlando.
In the meantime, he had met his wife, Ranee, in college and the couple married. He was hired by Florida Hospital after graduation and worked there for 12 years.
“I really loved the program there,” he said.
However, when the Kings had children, first a daughter and then a son, they knew they wanted to investigate living elsewhere.
“Ranee was raised mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but she and her family had spent some time in Salmon, Idaho,” and were familiar with that area,” he said.
When there was an opening in the lab at Salmon, King took a cut in pay and position to take the job at Steele Memorial and moved his family there.
“It was a wonderful place to raise children,” he said. The family stayed there for more than 18 years.
Shelby is now 24, and is a physical therapist in Soldotna, Alaska. Kyle, 21, is attending college in Walla Walla.
For several years, colleagues had told King they felt he has the aptitude and qualities to be a CEO and encouraged him to take that step.
“I have never been a career-climber,” he said, “but with the kids grown, there was a little more incentive.” He had gone from lab manager to director of IT, chief operating officer and then interim CEO. When his position in Salmon was cut, it forced his hand to do something else.
King applied for the Syringa CEO position and was hired in December.
“I am thrilled to be able to continue to live in Idaho, to be in Grangeville, and to be starting at this job,” he said.
King said he and his family “thoroughly enjoy” the Idaho lifestyle and participate in several recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, backpacking and floating.
King earned his MBA at Central Florida University and is a fellow with American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE).
“I have a lot to learn and I’m really excited about the future of Syringa Hospital and Clinics,” he stated.
King said he is happy to be working with “an amazing medical staff.”
“They are engaged, and they collaborate with each other and have a wonderful collegiality,” he said. “They help each other, trade schedules around and work well with the board. That doesn’t happen at every hospital.”
He said he is also excited about the hospital’s affiliation with Kootenai Health.
“This has opened the door for a lot of resources for Syringa, including training and purchasing,” he said. “In the future, I also hope this can improve rural healthcare by what we are able to offer our patients.”
He also hopes to continue to collaborate with St. Joe’s in Lewiston and more with St. Mary’s in Cottonwood.
“There is an opportunity to bring better care and more services to our communities, and that’s what it’s all about,” he emphasized.