Town hall addresses DHMC, golf course

by Harrison Aronoff | 1/18/18 2:00am

Approximately 75 Dartmouth students, faculty and staff attended Dartmouth’s bimonthly town hall in Spaulding Auditorium yesterday, hosted by executive vice president Rick Mills. The event’s keynote speaker, president and chief executive officer of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Joanne Conroy ’77, discussed her goals for the medical center.

Before Conroy’s address, Mills updated the audience on recent campus news. He said the College is beginning the New England Association of Schools and Colleges two-year reaccreditation process, which occurs every decade — the College’s current accreditation will expire in 2020. According to the NEASC website, accreditation is based on a series of 10 standards related to a college’s mission, governance and academic programs, among other factors.

Mills also provided an update on the Hanover Country Club committee that was formed in the fall to analyze the feasibility of maintaining the golf course, which the College has considered selling. He said the committee will begin meeting later this term with economics and public policy professor Charles Wheelan ’88 as its chair.

Renovations to the Hood Museum “continue to advance,” construction on Gilman Hall will begin in eight weeks or fewer and architectural plans are being finalized for Dana Hall, which is slated for construction this fall, according to Mills.

“[The town hall’s purpose] is to try to get information out to the community, about things that matter to people that is not easy to learn about otherwise,” Mills said in an interview after the town hall. “It’s also an opportunity for me to hear questions and concerns coming from the community.”

Following the announcements, Conroy, who was appointed as head of DHMC this past summer, spoke about her vision for the institution.

With health care deductibles rising, Conroy said one of her first priorities is to ensure that all Dartmouth employees have affordable and proper health care.

“We want to make sure they are [as] healthy as possible and have a really satisfying and full professional life with us as their employer,” Conroy said in her address.

Conroy added that she wants to address the medical center’s labor shortage. Since New Hampshire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, Conroy said the medical center has struggled to fill positions, especially during the past two years.

“We have to think creatively [about] how we can create an environment so people can move to the Upper Valley or commute to the Upper Valley so they can fill open positions,” she said.

One of Conroy’s biggest goals is to determine how to transform DHMC into “a national player.” Conroy said at the town hall that the medical center will continue its work in clinical care, but she envisions investing more into research. She added that she wants DHMC to team up with the Geisel School of Medicine to focus on certain areas of medicine, like oncology and neuroscience.

The town hall concluded with questions from the audience, many of whom asked about the rising deductible costs and employee health care. One attendant asked Conroy how New Hampshire hospitals should respond to the opioid epidemic, to which she replied that hospitals should limit the number of prescription medications dealt out and offer alternative, non-addictive pain medications.

The next town hall is scheduled for March 21.