It's already a difficult time for hospitals, but the community members of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System were hit with more difficult news on May 15. In a memo to hospital staff and volunteers, CEO Pete Delgado announced the passing of Dr. Norm Nelson, who died of injuries sustained in a horseback riding accident on May 14.
Nelson had a long career as an OB-GYN, delivering thousands of babies at SVMH over 35 years. His various positions on the SVMH medical staff included chair of the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology; chief of the medical staff; and president of the board of governors of the SVMH Foundation.
Toward the end of his medical career, Nelson became involved in the politics of the SVMH board, serving on the steering committee of a political action committee, the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Physician PAC, that formed in 2012.
After Nelson retired, he ran for a seat on the board in 2014, and narrowly lost. He ran again in 2018, and won that election.
In a remembrance he posted on social media, SVMH board president Victor Rey wrote, "I first met Dr. Nelson (he insisted I call him Norm, I just couldn't do that) eight years ago as an aspiring candidate for our hospital board. He pledged his support, and he was always just a phone call or email away. He'd call every now and then to give his opinion about some matter, but ALWAYS stressed that he was just one constituent and I needed to stay independent.
"His focus was quality and safety, and of course as an OB-GYN, mothers and babies were his soft spot.
"Dr. Nelson, you leave a gigantic impact on this community, first as a physician with all the babies you delivered and women you cared for, and for everything else you did."
Nelson's wife, Rin, recently retired from working as a nurse at SVMH. In his memo to staff, Delgado described her as "the inspiration for many of [Nelson's] endeavors."
"He was a class act with his heart in the right place; always giving more than he received, and never afraid to express his point of view," Delgado wrote. "He clearly displayed great pride in Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System."