UTICA - Retirement suddenly became very real for outgoing Mohawk Valley Health System President and CEO Scott Perra as he introduced his successor during a press conference Thursday, in an MVHS boardroom.
"I think I leave the organization in a great place and I'm proud of everything that's been accomplished and will be accomplished by this team of more than 4,000 employees, and I'm humbled to be part of the system and to be its first Chief Executive Officer," said Perra. "I have a tremendous amount of pride in this organization, but it also comes with some melancholy, any time you've dedicated 33 years of your life, literally."
The national search for a new president and CEO led MVHS to Fenway Health, in Boston, and their interim CEO, Darlene Stromstad. Stromstad began her professional life as a journalist, but a job in a hospital in her 20s put her on a new career path.
"In my young 20s, I ended up working in a hospital and I loved it and the rest of my life was defined by that job. Very fortunately, I came into a hospital that was doing a replacement hospital," said Stromstad. "It was transformational, and I knew that I would spend the rest of my career working my way up into transforming hospitals."
Stromstad will oversee the multi-faceted process of going from three hospitals to one hospital, to be located in downtown Utica. That downtown location has given rise to the 'no hospital downtown' movement. Stromstad is aware of the group,which vehemently opposes a downtown location, and may reach out to them, in order to foster a better sense of understanding.
"It is important to understand what their issues are and for us to step forward in a real time concrete way be able to address all of the concerns so that we can move this agenda forward."
Stromstad, originally from North Dakota, has begun transitioning with Perra, who is retiring. He's helping Stromstad prepare to take over the reins in January.
One thing that has struck the incoming CEO is the level of caring of not only the MVHS community, but the community at large.
"There is no apathy here; everybody has a vested interest in what's going on," sais Stromstad.