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New Leaders You Should Know: Joseph Perras

Published Friday Sep 8, 2023

Author Scott Merrill

New Leaders You Should Know: Joseph Perras

An experienced leader within the Dartmouth Health system, Joseph Perras is now the CEO at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, effective Aug. 7, and he is abiding by a time-tested mantra. 

“It’s a basic mantra I’ve used everywhere I’ve worked—provide the highest quality of care, in the safest possible environment for staff and patient,” says Perras, adding this needs to be achieved with every patient interaction. 

“I’m working on establishing those reflexes amongst all our team members. We all need to be singing from the same song sheet, so to speak, with that focus on quality, safety and improving the patient experience,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how good the care is you provide if the patient experience isn’t there from the moment people park their car to the time they’re checking out after a visit.”

Perras succeeds CEO Don Caruso, whose career at Cheshire Medical Center spanned three decades. Prior to his new role, Perras served as CEO at Dartmouth Health’s Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center for six years and eight years as its chief medical officer. Prior to that, he practiced internal medicine at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and was a founding physician within the hospital medicine practice. 

Perras, whose clinical and academic interests include health care delivery reform in rural environments and building accountable communities for health, says one of his first steps as CEO at Cheshire Medical Center is to go on a listening tour. “I intend on getting out there on every unit,” he says. 

One of the biggest challenges of running a hospital is managing costs, Perras says, explaining the current inflationary environment, combined with workforce issues, makes this especially difficult for rural hospitals. “The staffing shortages and the global health care workforce issues we’re struggling with, especially in New England, create a huge economic stress for every health care organization.” 

One way to help combat the cost issue, Perras says, is to reduce the turnover rate of employees by creating better employee engagement. “It’s all tied together. Again, patient safety, high quality of care, staff safety and engagement. All those aspects are workforce multipliers for us. If we can fix even a few of those things, we will have fewer expense items that hurt month after month,” Perras says. 

One area of hope for the hospital, Perras says, is the Family Medicine Residency program, which will train physicians to work in rural communities. “It would be ideal to grow our own nurses and providers,” he says. “That could make a huge impact on the physicians and staff.”

Perras says he enjoys working in a smaller rural environment which allows him to be a “bigger lever for change.” 

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