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Intriguing Woman-Led Nonprofit: Dartmouth Health

Published Wednesday Jan 4, 2023

Author Matthew J. Mowry

Intriguing Woman-Led Nonprofit: Dartmouth Health

Dr. Joanne Conroy not only leads NH’s only academic health system and largest private employer with 13,000 employees and 2,000 providers, she successfully guided it through the biggest health care crisis the modern world has faced. Now she’s steering it to further expansion.

Valley Regional Hospital plans to affiliate with the Dartmouth Health system next year to help the Claremont-based organization remain financially viable. And Dartmouth Health’s flagship institution, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, recently expanded its emergency department. The $7 million project significantly increases the capacity to treat behavioral health issues and adds decontamination and negative pressure rooms needed to treat high-threat infections.

The affiliation connects to Dartmouth Health’s recently rebranded two-pronged growth strategy: increasing its network of rural hospitals and expanding in the southern tier.

Looking to the future, Dartmouth Health will also increase digital services to meet patient demand. Dartmouth Health recognizes its leadership role in the state, by partnering with other community organizations to tackle societal issues, including increasing workforce housing and public transportation.

“We are a leader in this state and sometimes we have to step forward,” even when doing so is uncomfortable, Conroy says. Dartmouth Health was among the first in NH to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and require vaccines for staff. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, Conroy spoke out, declaring “Pregnancy is a medical conversation, not a legal or political one.”

Conroy leads by example through her management tenants: committing fully to something bigger than yourself, accepting responsibility for what you do, bringing your authentic self to the job and making decisions grounded in integrity. 

The weekly update to her staff called Joanne’s Journal grew from those tenants. She not only talks about health care issues and company updates, but also shares personal struggles.

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