Joe Albright says he has attended every St. John’s Health Board of Trustees meeting, both in-person and now on Zoom, for the past 12 years.

That perfect attendance record is a point of pride for the 84-year-old trustee, first appointed by the Jackson hospital board in 2009. This January he will log in to one last meeting to see his successor appointed.

“With feelings of gratitude for a challenging assignment … I am writing to let you know that I will resign from the Hospital Board in coming weeks,” he wrote to board Chair Sue Critzer on Tuesday.

Albright is a retired investigative reporter who has recently found a new sense of purpose investigating COVID-19 cases in Teton County. As a contracted case investigator for the Teton County Health Department, Albright spends up to 40 hours each week contact tracing to limit the spread of coronavirus in the community.

Between that role and keeping tabs on his beloved Flat Creek dude ranch, Albright said he no longer had enough time to devote to St. John’s.

“I leave the board with a conviction that the hospital is in good hands — even during the stressful times when all hospitals in the country are hurting from COVID,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

He told the News&Guide his one regret is not working harder, sooner, to provide housing for hospital staff. And that’s one issue he didn’t need to show up to meetings to hear about — he saw it this summer at his dude ranch, which had to build a new employee housing unit to keep staff on board.

In a conversation with the News&Guide, fellow board member Bruce Hayse commended Albright for his commitment to public service, both at St. John’s and now through public health.

“Joe’s just tremendous,” Hayse said. “I don’t know that people in this community realize how much he cares.”

Specifically, Hayse noted Albright’s advocacy for the working class and allegiance to transparency. When the Affordable Care Act rolled out across the country, Albright served as a local navigator, helping Teton County community members register for health insurance.

Hayse was part of the board that appointed Albright before he was elected in 2010. He described their collaboration as “a real privilege.”

Critzer, in a Tuesday press release, credited Albright with mentoring new trustees, taking an active role in the planning and opening of Sage Living, the hospital’s new long-term nursing care facility, and serving on the quality and facilities committees.

“Joe will always be a valued part of the St. John’s family,” Critzer stated.

The hospital board is planning to select Albright’s replacement at its Jan. 10 meeting, following public interviews with finalists that same morning. Letters of interest can be sent to kconnelly@stjohns.health, and final applications are due Dec. 6.

The board’s pick will serve at least until the November 2022 election, when Albright’s term was originally slated to expire. If recent elections serve as precedent, there’s a good chance the incumbent will be approved for a full four-year term.

“I leave the board with a conviction that the hospital is in good hands.” — Joe Albright 12-year st. john’s board trustee

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or ERJ@jhnewsandguide.com.

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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