Copley Hospital in Morrisville has a new president and CEO: Joseph Woodin, who will start in mid-October.
The Copley Health Systems Board of Trustees selected Woodin after a national search.
Woodin will succeed Art Mathisen, who resigned in May to become president of Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H. Since then, Jeffrey White has been interim CEO of Copley.
Woodin has an extensive career in hospital leadership and administration, much of it in Vermont.
Most recently, he was president and CEO of South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska, located a four-hour drive south of Anchorage. South Peninsula Hospital, like Copley, is an independent critical access hospital serving a rural community.
“I am very excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with the leadership team at Copley Hospital,” Woodin said. “I have known Copley for years, and have always been impressed with its great nursing staff and providers. I am hopeful to carry on that success, and help them navigate some of the uncertainty of health care reform, both nationally and in Vermont.”
Woodin was president and CEO of Gifford Health Care and Gifford Medical Center in Randolph for 16 years. Woodin helped increase Gifford’s gross revenue by about 600 percent, formed a federally qualified health center to oversee the hospital and its affiliates, spearheaded the acquisition of seven clinical sites in neighboring communities, and introduced several new service lines that allowed Gifford to better address the health needs of its community.
Earlier, Woodin held leadership roles at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin and the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
However, after Gifford, he had problems at his next two jobs. VTDigger reports that he was CEO at South Peninsula Hospital from February 2018 to April 2019, when he resigned abruptly, citing “unanticipated circumstances,” according to the Homer News.
In June 2017, Woodin was fired suddenly from Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in Massachusetts, after 13 months as CEO. At the time, Woodin told the Herald of Randolph that he wasn’t given a reason for his dismissal and blamed Martha’s Vineyard “island politics.”
In March 2018, the hospital sued Woodin, alleging he was in default of a $250,000 promissory note he signed with the medical center in January 2017.
The Boston Globe reported that much of the Martha’s Vineyard community was stunned, and demanded new leadership. They sent letters, wrote Facebook posts, held community meetings “and signed a petition to express frustration with the board’s actions.”
Even the chairman of the island hospital’s board, Timothy Sweet, told The Globe there could have been better communication.
“The public reaction took us a little bit aback. It’s clear now that we could do a better job in reaching out to the community,” Sweet told The Globe.
Copley’s financial squeeze
“We are pleased that Joe has agreed to join Copley,” Carl Szlachetka, chair of the Copley trustees, said. “We were fortunate to have received interest from a large and talented pool of candidates. However, what really set Joe apart from the very beginning was his impressive history of helping hospitals achieve solid financial performance; his willingness to embrace innovative approaches to the health care challenges facing smaller, rural hospitals; and his depth of leadership experience working within Vermont’s unique regulatory environment.”
Szlachetka said he couldn’t say much about Woodin’s former employment, but said the board was fully aware of Woodin’s rocky tenure in Martha’s Vineyard, as well as his short term in Alaska. They still feel he is a good fit for Copley.
“We looked at all that, and looked at the relative short tenures,” Szlachetka said. “The good news is in both of those short periods, he had a positive impact on those hospitals’ finances.”
Financial acumen will be a key to Copley’s future. Copley expects to lose $1.2 million this fiscal year, blaming the medical leave of a prominent orthopedic surgeon, higher drug prices and “significant expense pressure related to unfavorable health insurance claims.”
Copley is seeking state approval to raise its rates by 9.8 percent.
“As with all of the small, rural hospitals in Vermont, it is important to balance the needs of the community with insuring financial stability and continued success,” Woodin said. “I think Copley can continue to do that, given their exceptional foundation for both clinical quality and patient satisfaction.”
Mr. Woodin has a son and two daughters and one grandchild, with another on the way. He enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing and antiquing. He is in the process of relocating to Vermont, where he and his family lived for the majority of the last four decades.
VTdigger contributed to this story.