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Longtime CEO for west Sonoma County health centers announces retirement

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West County Health Centers on Monday announced its long-time CEO, Mary Szecsey, will retire her post on March 9.

Szecsey, who has led the Guerneville-based health system for the past 25 years, will be succeeded by Dr. Jason Cunningham, who has served as chief medical officer for the past 10 years, the organization said in a press release. He was first hired in 2004.

“Under Szecsey’s leadership, our annual budget has grown to $20 million; we are now one of the largest employers in the area and the premier organization providing locally available health care to anyone in the west Sonoma County area,” board Chairman John Kornfeld said in the release. “Our 13-member board is extremely grateful to Mary for all that she has done for this organization.”

During Szecsey’s tenure, West County Health Centers has grown from two medical clinics in Guerneville and Occidental to a network of seven facilities throughout the area providing medical, behavioral health, and dental services to more than 12,500 patients, or one in four of the 50,000 residents residing in the rural west county, according to the organization.

“I have full confidence in Dr. Cunningham and our executive team to maintain the collaborative and innovative approaches to improving community health that we have developed together for many years,” said Szecsey. “It’s been an honor to work with many dedicated employees, board members, volunteers, and community members over the years, and I look forward to a smooth transition.”

Szecsey joined the organization in 1995, serving as executive director of Occidental Area Health Center. In January 2000, she oversaw the merger of Occidental and Russian River health centers, forming West County Health Centers. Since then, the nonprofit has opened a youth center in Forestville, two integrated medical and behavioral health centers in Sebastopol, a wellness center in Forestville, and a homeless health care center in Guerneville.

West County Health Centers also said it will soon begin construction on a state-of-the-art facility in Guerneville to replace its clinic lost in a December 2015 fire.

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