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Town Must Seem Tame To New Chief of Cambridge Health Alliance

This article is more than 11 years old.

If you've seen Michael Moore's 1989 classic "Roger & Me," with its unforgettable scenes of rabbit-skinning and boarded-up houses, you know that Flint, Michigan is a very, very gritty city — and I hear it's even worse since the latest recession.

Hurley Medical Center is in the heart of it. I have ancient summer memories of visiting Hurley, where my late biological father was an internist, and feeling relieved when we drove into the parking garage, away from the scary neighborhoods surrounding it.

So when we just got the news that the new chief of Cambridge Health Alliance, Patrick Wardell, hails from Hurley, where he even managed to turn around the hospital's finances and expand, my reaction was: "Wow, he was capable of all that — and then smart enough to get the heck out of Flint! Cambridge will surely seem unspeakably tame to him."

A chunk of the Cambridge Health Alliance press release on Patrick Wardell's selection:

CAMBRIDGE, MA - The Cambridge Health Alliance Board of Trustees today announced the selection of Patrick Wardell as the new Chief Executive Officer for Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Mr. Wardell currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. The Board of Trustees reviewed three finalists following multiple interviews and unanimously chose Mr. Wardell at this morning’s Board meeting. Mr. Wardell’s appointment as Cambridge Health Alliance’s new Chief Executive Officer is contingent on contract negotiations.

Throughout the selection process, Mr. Wardell impressed the Board with his broad knowledge and understanding of safety net institutions and population health and, more important, how to position health systems like CHA amid national and local health care reform to improve, innovate, and modernize how care is provided to patients.

“This is a critical time for CHA and for health care delivery systems everywhere,” said Board Chair Mary Cassesso. “Given his more than 15 years of experience as a CEO for safety net institutions, the Board of Trustees and I believe we have the right person to steer this institution through such a crucial period and we’re very pleased with the caliber of candidates we attracted during this very deliberative search process.”

Mr. Wardell has spent the last six years as the President and CEO at Hurley Medical Center, a $360 million, 463-bed teaching hospital that provides residency programs in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and radiology. As President and CEO, Mr. Wardell reversed a seven-year cumulative loss of $34 million to a $7 million surplus in two years. He also established the Hurley Children’s Hospital, constructed a $30 million state-of-the-art emergency trauma center caring for 90,000 patients annually, and introduced patient family-centered care and Six Sigma principles to Hurley Medical Center.

This program aired on January 25, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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