UMass Memorial Health Care has named UMass insider Dr. Eric W. Dickson as its new president and CEO.
The 46-year-old Dickson will succeed John O'Brien, who has been at the helm of Central Massachusetts' largest employer for the past decade. O'Brien will step down Feb. 25.
Dickson is president of UMass Memorial Medical Group, a subsidiary of the health care system. That has 1,060 physicians and 2,200 other employees, as well as revenue of more than $460 million.
The Princeton resident is also a senior associate dean at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where he is a professor of emergency medicine. In addition, Dickson is a practicing emergency department physician at UMass Memorial Medical Center and a faculty member at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge.
Dickson said he is prepared to take the helm and said changes are in store for the health care system.
"My vision for this organization is to make UMass Memorial the best place in America to get care and the best place to give care. Strip away all the buildings, the financial projections and the marketing logos, and health care is fundamentally about one group of human beings helping another during their most desperate hours," he said, in a statement from UMass Memorial. "Under my leadership UMass Memorial is going to re-dedicate itself to be an organization focused first and foremost on the health and wellbeing of the patients we serve and the people who care for them in a financially responsible manner."
David Bennett, chair of UMass Memorial's board of trustees, called Dickson "an ideal chief executive" for UMass.
"He has all the requisite skills to bring this organization to the next level, including a comprehensive understanding of a new health care system predicated on value, not volume of services. His extensive quality improvement and process improvement experience well equips him for a future state that will demand greater efficiency while improving the patient's experience," he said.
O'Brien, who will stay at UMass Memorial for several weeks, after Dickson takes over, to assist with the transition, said, "Having worked with Dr. Dickson for the past several years, I can say from experience that he has a clear vision of what it takes to ensure UMass Memorial continues to be a great health care system for our community. Health care is undergoing its greatest transformation in the past 50 years. The skill sets needed to navigate the unchartered waters ahead will be much different than the skill set of my generation. Dr. Dickson has the leadership, business, and personal skills to navigate the organization at a time of industry challenge and opportunity."
Praising the outgoing O'Brien, Bennett said, "John has been unafraid to take on the challenge of transforming UMass Memorial for the future. We will continue to build on that work under Dr. Dickson's leadership."
Earlier in his career, Dickson held a variety of clinical and senior management roles at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was an emergency room physician at UMass Memorial from 1996 to 2003 as well as director of emergency medicine research at UMass Medical School from 1998 to 2003. Dickson served in the Army Reserve from 1985 to 1992 as a combat medic and respiratory therapist.
He graduated from Merrimack College in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in biology before graduating from UMass Medical School in 1995 then receiving a master's in health care management Harvard's School of Public Health in 2007. He is married with three children.
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