MANCHESTER — Douglas Dean announced Tuesday that he will step down next June as president and chief executive of the Elliot Health System, the vast Manchester-based hospital and health-delivery network he has headed for 15 years.
Dean said he will be 62 on his expected departure date of June 30, 2014. He said his children are grown and established in their careers; both he and his wife are in good health and want time for themselves.
“It’s a stressful, demanding job. I just think it’s a good time to think about my family,” Dean said in an interview.
Dean came to Manchester from Chicago, hired initially as the president and chief executive of Optima Healthcare, a merged hospital organization that included Elliot Hospital, Catholic Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua.
On the day of his job interview, the New Hampshire attorney general filed suit against Optima, and the hospital corporation eventually dissolved over issues regarding religion and health care.
Dean took over at the Elliot and built a physician network that now employs 305 primary and specialty-care physicians. He branched the hospital into the emerging field of urgent care and constructed clinics in Londonderry and the highly visible Elliot at River’s Edge in Manchester.
He opened an internal children’s hospital. And the Elliot was recently ranked as one of the 100 top hospitals in the country for development of electronic medical records.
Elliot was the first New Hampshire hospital to offer primary care service to the frail elderly, Dean said, and it has maintained psychiatric care beds despite losing money doing so.
Dean earned $966,000 in salary, bonuses, incentives, deferred compensation and other benefits, according to the hospital system’s 2010 filing with IRS, the most recent available. The filing was accessed through the website guidestar.org.
Elliot reported $344 million in hospital revenues for that year.
“Doug has certainly been very progressive, very creative. He is clearly a big thinker,” said Mike Green, president and chief-executive of Concord Hospital, which rivals Elliot as the second-largest hospital in New Hampshire.
Both are dwarfed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Tim Soucy, director of health for the city of Manchester, said Elliot has always been a partner in efforts to improve the health in the community. It has always made donations to the Manchester Community Health Center and recently provided space for a satellite operation of the clinic.
“They look beyond the walls of the hospital to think how to improve the health of city residents,” Soucy said.
Elliot has had its bumps under Dean. For years his hospital was in a rivalry with CMC, a rivalry that seemed to ease when former president and chief-executive Alyson Pitman Giles departed CMC last year.
Late last year, Dean said he didn’t know anything about a developer’s plans to build a liquor store on property co-owned by the Elliot. Elliot eventually sold off its share in the property. And the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the injury of two emergency room workers by a mentally ill patient earlier this month.
Scott Bacon, chairman of the Elliot board, said Dean informed the board four years ago that he planned to retire at the age of 62. The board and Dean instituted a three-step process, which included elevating Dr. Richard Phelps to the title of hospital president and hospital chief operating officer.
During an interview, Dean mentioned Phelps and Chief Medical Officer Willam Baxter as emerging leaders at the Elliot. They and Chief Financial Officer Richard Elwell would expect to have an inside track at Dean’s job.
Bacon said the board has hired an outside consultant, Yaffe & Co., which will interview directors and key hospital officials. This fall, Yaffe will recommend whether the board should hire internally or conduct an outside search, Bacon said.
“This is probably one of the biggest decisions the board will have to make,” said Bacon, a regional president with TD Bank. Bacon said he would not discuss the details of any financial severance package, stressing that the announcement is a retirement, not a separation.
A native of western New York state, Dean said he and his wife, Genie, plan to remain in Manchester, where they own a condominium on North River Road.
He will remain with the hospital as a consultant for the next few years once his replacement is hired, he said in a memo to hospital staff. He will not be involved in day-to-day operations of the hospital.
“I feel very responsible to the Elliot,” Dean said.