Jason Wells, who serves as president at Adventist Health Howard Memorial in Willits, will also oversee Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, effective Jan. 7.

The news comes following Adventist’s Nov. 8 announcement that Gwen Matthews will be retiring in January from the Ukiah hospital, where she has served for seven years as president and CEO. Matthews, a 45-year health care industry veteran, has worked for Adventist Health for 25 years, the institution said in the announcement Dec. 7.

“While I will miss working with Gwen Matthews as we have done so collaboratively over the years, I am excited to see Adventist Health unify in Mendocino County,” said Camille Schraeder, Adventist Health Howard Memorial Community Board Member and CEO of Redwood Community Services. “Bringing the care, service and guidance under one voice with Jason Wells’ direction, I am confident this will address the critical needs of our county while expanding services to address homelessness, mental health, medical care and other community needs.”

Wells, who joined Howard Memorial in March 2017, has worked for Adventist since 2009. He previously served in leadership roles at Park Ridge Health in Asheville, North Carolina. Park Ridge Health is part of Adventist Health System, a sister organization to Adventist Health.

“Under his leadership at Adventist Health Howard Memorial, patient satisfaction scores placed the hospital in the top decile in the nation and employee engagement scores are the highest performing in all of Adventist Health,” said Jeff Eller, president, Adventist Health Northern California region. “Jason’s expertise, coupled with his strong focus on community outreach, patient experience, physician recruitment and passion for driving exceptional outcomes, is key to our success.”

Under Matthews’s leadership, Ukiah Valley launched a new family medicine residency program and recently completed a $55 million expansion of its emergency department and intensive care unit. She also oversaw the expansion of the street medicine program, which provides health care and other services to the underserved, according to Adventist Health.

“Gwen’s vision for innovation and passion for the underserved has already paved the way,” Wells said. “It is a great foundation for us as we open a new chapter for growth and collaboration across the county.”

Wells’s expanded role as president of both Adventist Health Howard Memorial and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley comes amid Adventist Health’s pending merger with St. Joseph Health. The merger, announced in April, is under regulatory review and anticipated to be complete sometime in the spring, said Vanessa deGier, executive director, marketing and communications, St. Joseph Health Northern California.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information about the expected timing of the merger between St. Joseph Health and Adventist Health.