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Legacy of a Hero on a Mission


Cardiologist Dale Morrison, M.D., loves living in a small town and considers himself blessed to be a common man treating common people- similar to his own humble beginnings. Growing up in St. Helena, CA, Dr. Morrison always wanted to be a missionary in the Seventh-day Adventist tradition. Dr. Morrison attended grade school, academy, and college in the area, earning his bachelor’s degree at Pacific Union College in Angwin.

While attending Loma Linda Medical School, Dr. Morrison met his future wife, Barbara, a nursing student whose parents were missionaries serving in Korea. It was during medical school he decided to focus on his love of sciences and went into medicine, graduating as an internist in 1971.

After his residency, Dr. and Mrs. Morrison followed their desire to be missionaries, which led them to Hong Kong where he practiced at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital. Their children, Brad and Kim, were born during their tenure as missionaries. In 1981, Dr. Morrison chose to focus on the practice of cardiology, returning to Loma Linda for further training. After two years, the family returned to Hong Kong, where he opened the Hong Kong Heart Center. Having served a total of 12 years in Hong Kong, they returned to Northern CA to be near family, choosing to raise their children in Ukiah due to the good school and church system and small-town community.

Upon arrival, Dr. Morrison practiced with Dr. Randall Bream, followed by a brief period as a sole practitioner and later with his esteemed colleague, Dr. Jack Bagshaw. Today Dr. Morrison continues his practice with his associates at Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) on Hospital Drive in Ukiah.

Over the years, Dr. Morrison has made it his mission to serve as Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s Chief of Staff and Chief Medical Officer. “Under Dr. Morrison’s leadership, the medical staff was unified in their mission to improve patient safety standards and hospital quality scores,” says Dr. Charlie Evans, UVMC incoming Chief of Staff.

In 2010 Dr. Morrison’s mission mindedness led him, along with 30 of his colleagues, to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake the country experienced on January 12 of that year. While there he met Donald Victor Leopold, a 22-year-old suffering from congenital aortic valve disease, untreatable in Haiti – beginning a heart-wrenching rhythm of events.

After returning to Ukiah, Dr. Morrison worked with the US Embassy to acquire a travel visa for Donald. Two years later Donald was able to have a successful surgery in California that saved his life.

Because of his mission-driven boldness, Dr. Morrison has earned the admiration and appreciation of his colleagues. Dr. Mark Luoto had this to share about Dr. Morrison, “Several weeks ago I walked into UVMC’s medical staff lounge and was struck by a clear sense of melancholy. Sitting there was Dale Morrison talking with another physician. I had just learned that he was retiring in the late summer. Although I was happy for Dale, in all honesty, I was saddened by the news. For 25 years, I have had the pleasure of working with Dale, in both happy and trying times. Whenever I saw his name on the call list, I would rest just a bit easier. Whenever I called Dale about a patient, I always got the help I needed. I cannot remember a time when he didn't do the right thing for the patient – and for me, his colleague, on the other end of the line. I consider Dale both a friend and a mentor. I will always appreciate what he has given to his patients, his colleagues, and the greater Ukiah community. He will be sorely missed.”

Likewise, Dr. Roger Cheitlin had this to say, “It always happens in the middle of the night. I was the hospitalist on, taking care of a seriously ill patient who was admitted to the ICU earlier in the evening. I was concerned that this patient had suffered a catastrophic insult to his heart, but it was not entirely clear to me. I woke Dr. Morrison up to discuss the case, and as usual, he was helpful on the phone. We came up with a plan to get through the night; Dr. Morrison would see the patient early in the morning. The next thing I know, Dr. Morrison had arrived, sees the patient and proceeds with our morning plans at 4 am. He had decided not to wait until daylight, but instead to come immediately in the middle of the night to help with this sick patient. I cannot tell you how moved I was that he took it upon himself to get involved as he did. His service and commitment to our patients are extraordinary, and I so admire Dr. Morrison for his passionate professionalism as a physician.”

Current UVMC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marvin Trotter, reflects on Dr. Morrison as, “A consummate gentlemen, who’s always a pleasure to work with. He has impressed upon me personally a legacy of excellence. He has served the community without complaint and without fail and takes care of anybody at any time. He has definitely impressed upon me a model of a true legacy.”

From an administrative perspective Gwen Matthews, Chief Executive Officer at UVMC, echoed the thoughts of the physicians, “Dr. Morrison has touched countless lives through his dedicated practice of medicine here in our community and those in the far reaches he has served. His passion around doing what is right for the patient and ensuring the highest quality of care has been an inspiration to us all.”

In his spare time, Dr. Morrison enjoys restoring old automobiles and is currently working on a 1955 Triumph and a 1931 Model A. A history buff, he is an avid reader and enjoys camping with his wife, family, and friends.

In closing, the legacy that Dr. Morrison leaves at UVMC is best summarized by Dr. Charlie Evans. “It is rare to find all the qualities needed in one person to make a truly great physician. It takes a humble individual who isn’t afraid to fight even though he knows sometimes he will fail. It takes a leader who will speak up for what he believes but only after listening to all his colleagues and gathering the data needed to make the best judgment. It takes tireless hours of dedication to the profession which inevitably means giving up precious time spent with loved ones. It takes compassion for our patients, especially when we are most vulnerable from fatigue and feel unable to see one more patient. Dr. Dale Morrison is one of these truly great physicians. In the past 25 years I have seen his commitment to service and our community; his leadership of the medical staff that has taken us to new levels of quality; and, most importantly, his humble and selfless compassion in treating his patients with a dedication to service. Dr. Morrison has set the bar for us all.”