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Scott Johnson Named New LCO Health Center Director

Updated: Jun 25

By Joe Morey

News Editor

In an announcement on June 7th, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians named Scott Johnson as the new Lac Courte Oreilles Health Center Director.

“Scott brings with him a wealth of administrative experience and a deep commitment to improving the health and well-being of our community,” The LCO Tribe announced. “His official start date will be June 10, 2024. Please join us in welcoming Scott to his new role and supporting him as he works to enhance our health services.”

Johnson replaced Gary Girard who had served as the director for the past several years.

“At this time, we also wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Gary Girard, our outgoing Health Director. Gary's dedication and hard work have greatly contributed to the progress and success of our Health Center. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Johnson has a long history of administrative duties, serving as a teacher, principal and school administrator for several school districts, including the LCO Ojibwe School, New Auburn and Siren. He first became the LCO School’s principal at the age of 25.

His most recent position was LCO Tribal Court Administrator, where he served since 2022, being hired just a week after his retirement from the New Auburn school district.

“The position of health care director has offered me a chance to take over thirty years of administrative experience in public education and put those skills to work in a different environment,” Johnson noted. “I will still be very much engaged in budgeting, personnel, policies, and other management responsibilities, but I am now able to apply those skills in the health care industry. New challenges have a way of recharging the battery, so I am feeling refreshed and energized to try and help my tribe in different ways.”

Johnson said he will pick up and take over the great work already accomplished by Dr. Girard, stating the Tribe has a great opportunity in the transition from one tribal member to another both having valuable administrative experience.

“Our goal is to provide the employees and programs with experienced leadership as we prepare for a new health care facility that will be opening soon.”

Johnson said he has toured the construction site several times since taking over. He also toured the site with the medical director, Dr. Malcom.

“We have been assured the new facility will be ready for a move-in by the beginning of February 2025, so that means we have a whole lot of planning in front of us to get ready for that event. On the outside, it is easy to see this going to be a beautiful facility. The inside is quickly turning into an impressive building that will house many departments. The concrete floors are all poured, the dry wall work and painting is already underway as each department is starting to take its own shape,” he explained.

Johnson said they are beginning the process of selecting furniture for the facility, and determining which medical equipment will be relocated and which will be purchased new. 

A maintenance garage has been approved for construction Johnson stated.

“Best of all, the new facility is on schedule to be completed under budget.”

Johnson said he has been meeting with all departments and all employees to discuss the focus and vision our tribal governing board has expressed. 

“We want our community to feel welcomed and helped when they are in need of health care services,” Johnson said. “We want our tribal community to know that we are here for them and we will do whatever we can to assist them with all of their needs.  We are focusing our efforts on raising our level of expectations for excellence.”

It has been a challenging and rewarding first two weeks as the new health director, Johnson added. He said with nearly 120 employees scattered over nearly twenty departments, he has spent much of his time trying to meet everyone and become familiar with the priorities and needs in each department. 

“I have been meeting with each department and the directors, the health advisory board, and the tribal governing board in an effort to get acclimated to my new surroundings,” Johnson said. “The employees have been very welcoming and helpful.  I look forward to making a positive impact on our community health services.”

Johnson added, “my goal is to not only continue to provide excellent health services to our community, but also to place an emphasis on continually improving the public perception of our health center through improved communications and great customer service.  We will continue to try to improve and expand on our health services to better meet our community’s needs.”

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