October 2000

Meet the Leader of Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa


10-00Vallinga

David Vellinga
President and Chief
Executive Officer
Mercy Medical Center
Des Moines, Iowa


David Vellinga, who greeted the new millennium by running a marathon in New Zealand and recently ran to the top of Colorado’s Pike’s Peak, sees parallels between running and the health care ministry. "In order to be successful, we must have high expectations and a clear vision of what we want to accomplish," he said. "Then, we must take care of body, mind and spirit in our efforts to fulfill those expectations."

Vellinga’s vision for Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was named president and chief executive officer almost two years ago, is to make it the premier integrated health care organization in the state. In addition to the 691-bed medical center, the organization includes a Senior Services division with long-term care, assisted living, independent living and inpatient hospice;

24 affiliated clinics; 11 affiliated rural community hospitals; and a fully-accredited college. "Most importantly, Mercy has well-established traditions of innovation, clinical excellence and patient-focused care," he said.

Vellinga joined Mercy after serving as president and CEO of North Iowa Mercy Health Center in Mason City, Iowa, and is a past president of the Iowa Hospital Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and a master’s degree in hospital and health care administration from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. He and his wife, Nancy, have three children: Nate, a graduate student; Jill, a college student; and Megan, a high school student.

Since August, Vellinga has also served as chair of the Management Council of Mercy Health Network, a joint operating organization created by Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health of Novi, Mich., to manage several facilities in Iowa. In addition, he is president and chief executive officer of Mercy International Health, which provides health care consulting and management services to developing areas of the world. How does he manage his leadership roles with three organizations? "You have to have a great team; set priorities and work on them every day; set high expectations for yourself and others; and stay focused on the vision – whether it’s finishing a marathon or building a world-class health care organization," he said.