DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Lakeridge Health named Tom McHugh Interim President and CEO of the hospital on Wednesday, March 2.
Mr. McHugh will fill the role that was previously held by Kevin Empey up until he announced his resignation on Thursday, Sept. 17. He will assume full responsibilities of the position starting on Friday, April 1.
“I'm totally delighted. I've worked all of my life in the hospital system. It is a tremendous opportunity for me to provide leadership for this phase,” Mr. McHugh told The Standard.
Mr. McHugh is a Registered Occupational Therapist. He is also Chair of the Central East Regional Cancer Program Leadership Council. Mr. McHugh also has some experience in the role that he is taking on, having served as President and CEO of Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital and Alexandra Hospital in Ingersoll.
Lakeridge Health Board Chair Donna Kingelin said that Mr. McHugh was the best candidate for the position.
“We wanted to appoint an interim President and CEO with a clear sense of the mission and vision of Lakeridge Health and, as an experienced CEO, the author of our hospital’s Strategic Plan and one of our most valued senior leaders, Tom was a natural choice,” she said in a press release. “Tom is tremendously talented and respected, not only here in Durham, but across the health care system.”
The outgoing CEO agreed with that statement.
“I have worked with Tom for a number of years now and Lakeridge Health has benefitted from his vision and his ability to think at a systems level,” Mr. Empey said in a press release. “I have witnessed his acuity and his outstanding ability to lead, engage and motivate his teams. I am confident that he’s the strategic thinker and the strong, steady hand that Lakeridge Health needs at this time.”
Mr. Empey will remain at Lakeridge Health until Saturday, April 30 to help with the transition.
Mr. McHugh said that it won’t be easy taking over the position that Mr. Empey has held since 2008.
"Those are big shoes to fill for sure. When I first came here, one of the big attractions was having Kevin Empey as a mentor,” the Interim CEO said.
He added that one of his first acts as the President and CEO will be to visit Lakeridge’s hospital sites, introducing himself to frontline staff, patients, as well as families.
"I have encouraged our board on where Lakeridge can get better and I am looking forward to taking the steps towards that. That is my major focus,” Mr. McHugh said.
He called patient experience and input in their care “super important” to him, and added that he values the relationships and the connections that he has made with the local communities, such as Port Perry, over his time working for Lakeridge Health.
Mr. McHugh will fill the role in the interim, as Lakeridge searches for a full time replacement. However, when asked by The Standard if he is considering putting his hat in the ring for the position, Mr. McHugh replied “yes.”
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