Scripps Health leader retires from assistant sheriff position

Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder(cq) is volunteer commander through the Sheriff's office with search and rescue.
Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder participates in volunteer training of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s search-and-rescue team in Alpine in 2011.
(The San Diego Union-Tribune)

CEO Chris Van Gorder volunteered for more than 20 years, starting as a reserve deputy


After more than two decades volunteering in search and rescue with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Scripps Health Chief Executive Officer Chris Van Gorder announced Thursday, Feb. 16, that he is leaving his post as reserve assistant sheriff.

The volunteer work was a way for the executive to continue participating in law enforcement.

Van Gorder’s career in health care began after he was injured on the job while working for the Monterey Park Police Department in 1978. He entered hospital security at the Los Angeles medical center where he convalesced after his injury, returning to school and gradually climbing in the medical administrative ladder, landing his current position at Scripps in 2000.

Signing up to be a volunteer deputy in 2002, the sheriff’s department named him deputy of the year in 2003 for his work on its tactical search and rescue team.

In 2014, he became the department’s first reserve sheriff, continuing to specialize in search and rescue, but also overseeing all volunteer operations.

Van Gorder, a Carmel Valley resident, said Thursday, Feb. 16, that he’s stepping down from the position because, over 20 years, he “worked myself out of a job.”

“That’s the main reason, but also, I hit 20 years on the job, and my work at Scripps takes even more time today than it has over all of my years in health care leadership,” Van Gorder said in an email. “Taken all together, I thought it was time.”

Sheriff Kelly A. Martinez publicly thanked Van Gorder for his service, saying in a statement released by Scripps that his leadership “is an example of the amazing things we can accomplish when we work with our communities.”

Van Gorder said he will miss the people he met in the search-and-rescue department, but also “the missions and the disaster and medical/trauma work in Ocotillo Wells.”

“Working with our search subjects and families were very rewarding, and working with the law enforcement reserves with a different mission but still all volunteers,” VAn Gorder said. “I’ll miss it all.”