One of the proudest things she has done in her life.

That's what Decorah's Arlene Houlihan said of her 13 years of service to the Winneshiek Medical Center Board of Trustees, as she stepped down from the Board last week.

"It has been so enlightening," said Houlihan, who has served as Board vice chair since 2005.

"I'm so glad we have two new Board members, because you will find so many answers to questions you might have had by coming on the Board," Houlihan said, addressing newly elected Board members Karl Jacobsen and Steve Hildebrand.

"I've done a lot of things in the medical community and I'm terribly proud of this place ... what we've built with the $18 million expansion," she said.

Houlihan also said she is proud of the fact that during her time on the Board, it has grown from five to seven members.

"I think the more people we get on the inside to understand the problems, the better. It's so easy for outsiders to criticize and judge when they don't know the whole story. Obviously we can't tell the whole story, because some of it is private," said Houlihan.

Houlihan said one of the reasons she is stepping down from the Board is that she is 80 years old.

"I think there's somebody younger who maybe could do a better job," she said.

"We are grateful for your leadership over these years, for your passion for the people, for your frame of reference, caring about the staff, your good humor, willingness to tackle the issues and saying what needs to be said," said Chief Administrative Officer Gretchen Dahlen.

Houlihan was appointed to the Board in 1999, replacing Brenda Carlson. She was publicly elected in November of 2000 and again in 2006.

Also stepping down at last week's meeting was Dr. David Gehling, who has served on the Board since last April, when he was appointed to replace Trustee Don Nelson.

"I appreciate your willingness to step right in. You are a quick study, who cares about this place and was ready to jump right into the mix. We thank you for your service," said Dahlen.

Jacobsen and Hildebrand were elected last month to replace Houlihan and Gehling. They have attended the last two Board meetings as members of the public and will be sworn in at the January Board meeting.