In a two-week stretch that included landmark elections, a brush with superstorm Sandy, and a confrontation with a nasty nor’easter, last week’s announcement that Ken Hanover is stepping down as CEO of Northeast Health System was overshadowed, to say the least, by other local news coverage.
But the resignation of Hanover, four months after Addison Gilbert Hospital’s parent corporation essentially merged with larger Lahey Clinic to form the new Lahey Health System, should be noted — as should his work since taking Northeast’s reins in October 2009. For after the stormy term of previous CEO Stephen Laverty, Hanover at least seemed to rebuild a sense of openness among many Cape Ann residents and health-care activists who never trusted Laverty — and with good reason, considering two no-confidence votes by his own medical staff and criminal charges against one of his administrative hires over the theft of artwork that once hung at AGH.
Hanover’s legacy here may be the partnership with Lahey, one he pursued to keep Northeast — and by extension, Addison Gilbert — competitive in the ever-changing North Shore health care landscape. But he also deserves credit for being up front with Cape Ann health care consumers, especially through a partnering process that began with four suitors, including two for-profit companies that gave some residents and officials the willies.
Hanover will remain with Lahey as an executive vice president and chief strategy officer through Dec. 31. That should help the transition as Dennis Conroy steps in as Northeast’s interim president under overall Lahey CEO Howard Grant. But they and other Lahey officials would do well to follow Hanover’s outreach efforts, which made it clear that the best case for AGH’s long-term survival is made by residents using its services. And all should remember how he picked up the pieces from Laverty’s calamitous run and restored both a sense of trust and a sense that Cape Ann’s voices were heard.
We wish him the best.