Leaving a legacy: Ray Montgomery plans to retire at Unity

With a 10th anniversary threefold, one man stands in service to the rest at Unity Health in Searcy — President and CEO Ray Montgomery. This year, he will write his final chapter of representing the health care system, as he plans to retire before the close of 2018. 

Montgomery’s profession actually began by a change in direction when a college aptitude test led him from pursuing engineering to health care. He first began in respiratory therapy, and it was through this career he was exposed to caring and interacting with patients, working alongside physicians and associates and learning how to navigate working in a hospital. Before making Arkansas his home, Montgomery was raised in Kansas, and later spent time in Oklahoma and Texas, beginning at White County Medical Center on Aug. 8, 1988 (8/8/88). 

“Health care is a ministry and an opportunity to serve and care for your fellow man, and God has rewarded me and so many others in the service that we have in caring for people,” Montgomery said. “Scripture tells us that we must work as if we are working for the Lord, and though it takes many highs and lows, both frustrations and celebrations, health care is truly meeting the needs of patients, and you have the opportunity to connect with them through life and death situations.”

During his tenure, Montgomery has led the hospital through extensive facility improvements and acquisitions of local hospitals, including Central Arkansas Hospital of Searcy and Harris Hospital in Newport, along with a number of clinics. He has also been instrumental in the building of the Cancer Center of Excellence, creating the Unity Health Graduate Medical Education program and leading the organization to become the first hospital in the state to be accepted into the Mayo Clinic Care Network. 

“Our organizational structure is inverted; the people who are most important are those giving the care, and if there is a hero among us, it is because each and every one of those individuals have made a difference in a collective teamwork approach,” Montgomery said. “These are the true heroes of our organization.” 

Montgomery believes the driving forces of success for Unity Health are those who devote their time and talents toward serving patients and families above all. With outstanding associates dedicated to compassionate care, constant innovative developments and a thriving and supportive community, a teamwork approach is what has brought a county hospital to become a haven for health care for multiple cities, counties and rural communities in the region. 

“Integrity and servant leadership set him apart,” said Unity Health VP of Patient Services LaDonna Johnston. “He pushes you to reach your full potential and is never happy with status quo; he is truly a visionary.”

He and his wife, Rebecca, have been active in conducting home Bible studies and housing undergraduate and graduate students in their home, and Montgomery has served as an elder at his local congregation. He feels that awards and recognitions do not measure the greatest accomplishments of his career, but rather it’s the relationships he has formed. 

“He is driven, analytical and expects high performance out of himself and translates that to his team members,” said Unity Health CFO Stuart Hill, “He always does the right thing for the right reason. He always has a vision for what we need to accomplish and how to keep everything moving in the direction of his constructed plans. He is willing to take risks, and I appreciate how he sees the value in what every person can bring to our organization. You cannot separate his faith from any part of who he is, and it is integral in everything he does.”

Montgomery hopes to leave the following legacy for his career in health care administration — “What I hope it will be is that I was a servant, I was faithful to this community, I could be trusted and I was humble.”


Hannah Robison