James J. Raggio III Laboratory

Retiring Lompoc Valley Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Jim Raggio, left, appears with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Randall Michel during a ceremony Tuesday naming the “James J. Raggio III Laboratory” in recognition of Raggio’s years as a lab director and director of clinical services at the hospital.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center has renamed its laboratory in recognition of outgoing CEO Jim Raggio, a hospital spokeswoman announced Tuesday.

The renaming was revealed during a ceremony with members of the hospital’s medical staff in honor of Raggio, who is set to officially retire on March 1. During that gathering, a sign was unveiled to reveal the naming of the “James J. Raggio III Laboratory” in recognition of Raggio’s years as a lab director and director of clinical services at the hospital.

The medical staff chose to recognize Raggio with the lab naming and plaque installation in the department where Raggio first began his LVMC employment almost 40 years ago, according to Nora Wallace, the hospital’s public relations coordinator.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Raggio said after the unveiling.

“It was a big part of my life,” he added, referring to the lab.

Raggio was hired in 1980 as LVMC’s director of laboratory services and held that position for seven years. He was director of clinical services from 1987 to 1995 and became CEO in 1998. He announced his intention to retire last year.

A plaque at the lab notes that area was named in honor of Raggio “with grateful appreciation for his years of dedication, leadership and vision.”

Tuesday’s ceremony was coordinated by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Randall Michel and Chief of Staff Dr. Michael Gill and attended by physicians and LVMC staff.

“A lot of us really got a chance to see your whole career here, from the beginning when you came in 1980,” Michel said. “Many of us, including myself, have little insight into the herculean effort it takes to run a medical center, particularly in this day and age. You have always conducted yourself with dignity. You have been a man of your word and you have earned the respect not only of your staff, but also the entire medical staff.”

Michel credited Raggio’s “hard work and vision” for ensuring the new hospital became a reality in 2010 and for expanding medical care options in the Lompoc Valley.

“We want you to retire knowing you have our admiration,” he added.

Raggio is set to be succeeded by Stephen Popkin, who agreed last year to take over as LVMC’s new CEO. It is expected that Popkin will become the hospital's top executive by Feb. 28.

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This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.