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Doctor, visionary, leader

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | August 12, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — In the course of his medical career that spanned more than three decades, Dr. Terence Neff was guided by several principles.

One of them was this: If you don't know what to do, do what's best for the patient.

"That's what we did," he said to about 100 people at the Hagadone Event Center. "And you can see through Kootenai Health the results of that. And I believe the Kootenai Health board continues to follow that foundation."

Neff was honored Thursday by the boards of Kootenai Health and the Kootenai Health Foundation with the Visionary Leadership Award.

Only three others have received the award: Paul Anderson in 2019, Ron McIntire in 2017 and John Smith Richards, who received the inaugural award in 2015.

Katie Brodie, chair of the Kootenai Health board, described Neff as a visionary and a great leader.

"He cares about our hospitals and cares about our community," she said before calling Neff to the stage. "And I'm just proud to be able to say Terence Neff is my friend — come and get your plaque," she added, laughing.

The Visionary Leadership Award recognizes those whose leadership and innovative thinking significantly improve Kootenai Health and health care in the community.

"Recipients of the award helped to lay the foundation for today's advancements, and their dedication continues to encourage and inspire the community," according to a press release.

A board-certified pediatrician, Neff started Coeur d’Alene Pediatrics in 1985 and grew it to be the largest pediatric practice in Idaho.

He served as chief of medical staff at Kootenai Health from 2001 to 2003 and went on to serve on the Kootenai Health Foundation board from 2007 to 2013. He also served on the Kootenai Health board of directors from 2008 to 2021 and was board chairman from 2018 to 2021.

Neff has held leadership and advisory positions with more than 20 local and statewide organizations working to improve health and health care for children and adults.

He is retired today.

“Dr. Neff has dedicated his career to caring for northern Idaho’s children,” Chris Meyer, chair of the Kootenai Health Foundation board, said in the press release. “He is a thoughtful advocate, fierce defender and respected leader. His work — from his office, to the boardroom, to the state capitol — has significantly contributed to making this a better community for all.”

Neff deflected the credit given him and praised his wife of 35 years, Debbie, who was at his side.

"She supported me and we never would have accomplished all that we did if it had not been for her support," he said.

Neff also said he was accepting the award for others who worked at Kootenai Health and gave it their all.

"Everybody worked together to make Kootenai Health what it is today," he said.

Neff said it's been exciting to be part of Kootenai Health over the last 35 years. He said the hospital has grown dramatically and made amazing medical advances

"But it wasn't always that way. And it also was not easy. It took a lot of effort. It took a lot of dedication and a lot of time," he said.

Neff thanked the crowd, as well.

"The support that you guys show Kootenai Health is what makes us strong," he said, as people stood and applauded. "So thank you very much."

Brodie said it was fitting Neff received Kootenai Health’s Visionary Leadership Award.

“He was there for us when we were raising our children and he helped set the course for Kootenai Health," she said.

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