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Dartmouth alum named CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 15. 2017 10:06AM

LEBANON — Dr. Joanne Conroy is coming back to Dartmouth.

A veteran in health care administration and medical education, Conroy was named Thursday as the next president and CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system.

"Dartmouth-Hitchcock is an organization that I have long admired," said Conroy, a 1977 graduate of Dartmouth College. "It's really an honor to be selected to lead the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system and I'm humbled by the trust that comes with that responsibility."

Conroy will take over at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in early August, succeeding retiring president and CEO Dr. James Weinstein. She has spent the last three years as CEO of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Mass.

Conroy also spent more than five years as chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C.

Conroy will inherit some challenges.

A planned affiliation with Elliot Health System was called off in February, nine months after Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Elliot officials announced they were reviving the idea of establishing a formal relationship.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock also took some heat this spring when Gov. Chris Sununu announced that it had been out of compliance with a $36 million contract to provide medical staff at the troubled state psychiatric hospital in Concord.

Sununu said last week that the state and Dartmouth-Hitchcock have been working together and he is confident the partnership would continue moving forward.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock also reported $22 million in losses for the second quarter of 2016 and laid off 84 workers in October.

Anne-Lee Verville, chairman of the board of trustees, said Conroy was selected from a field of more than 45 candidates. She was one of two finalists for the post and was unanimously approved in a vote by the board in a special meeting on Wednesday.

"She has always been heavily engaged in medical education leadership and academics and that was important to us," Verville said Thursday. "She's a strategic thinker, she has outstanding communication skills and a collaborative approach to what she does."

Conroy started her career at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she received her medical degree and completed her residency. In addition to her role as an anesthesiologist, Conroy also began her administrative work at MUSC, serving in posts including president of the medical staff, executive medical director and senior associate dean.

Conroy was named one of Modern Healthcare's "Top-25 Influential Women in Healthcare" in 2011 and made the Becker's Hospital Review list of "130 Women Hospital and Health Systems Leaders to Know" the past two years.

"Among women in health care she's sort of a giant," said Karen Wolk Feinstein, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in Pittsburgh.

Feinstein and Conroy are the co-founders of the Women's Health Activist Movement Global, launched in November, and both are members of the group Women of Impact for Health Care. Feinstein said Dartmouth-Hitchcock made the right choice.

"The environment at Dartmouth lends itself to that kind of intellectual desire to be constantly improving what you do. Joanne is perfect," Feinstein said. "She's sort of a natural leader. She has incredible integrity. She is absolutely committed to doing the right thing and she will not budge."

Conroy officially starts on Aug. 7.

Weinstein's retirement takes effect at the end of the month; Dr. Edward Merrens, chief clinical officer, and Stephen LeBlanc, will serve as co-CEO and president during the interim.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is New Hampshire's largest health system, with nearly 400 beds and 9,100 employees. It provides access to more than 1,000 primary care doctors and specialists through its flagship Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and affiliate hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, New London and Windsor, Vt.

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