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Hudson Headwaters Expands Leadership Team

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Two key Hudson Headwaters physician-executives will be transitioning to new senior leadership roles effective July 1st.  Dr. John Rugge, founder and CEO, will be moving to the role of Executive Chairman and Dr. Dan Larson has been named Chief Medical Officer Emeritus.  In concert with these changes, Dr. Tucker Slingerland will assume the role of CEO.  All three will continue to see patients regularly.

“Hudson Headwaters has been growing to meet the health care needs in our communities for more than 35 years,” said Barbara Sweet, Board President.  “Our board and our leadership team have been preparing carefully for the long-term future.  As we’ve expanded our geography, services, and partnerships, the time is right to expand our leadership team.”

Dr. John Rugge will move from his role as the Founding CEO of the Network to that of Executive Chairman, enabling him to continue his clinical practice while also representing Hudson Headwaters in policy forums and being available to Dr. Slingerland for special projects.

“With all the opportunities and challenges ahead, we know the importance of facing the future,” said Dr. Rugge.  “And, as physicians, we know the value of both fresh perspectives and young blood!   For obvious reasons, I am really pleased at promoting the next generation while not losing the…eh, seasoned crew.”

Dr. Rugge says that he feels that the Network is well prepared for what may come in an ever-changing medical landscape.  “We are fortunate to have an engaged Board of Directors, a superb Foundation, passionate supporters, and talented providers and staff.  We also happen to have important friends in Albany and Washington, and a national reputation to boot.”

Dr. Larson will assume the role of Chief Medical Officer Emeritus on July 1.   In this role, he will continue his office clinical practice, maintain his roles in local long-term care communities, and be available to provide mentoring for future recruiting activities.

A not-for-profit system of 17 community health centers providing comprehensive primary care and select specialty services, the Network serves more than 5,000 square miles of the Adirondack North Country and the Glens Falls region.  Providing care in the health centers, in hospitals, nursing homes, work places, schools, and in the home setting, Hudson Headwaters is the sole medical provider for much of this rural, medically underserved region and is the primary care “safety-net” for the Glens Falls area.

Since its inception, the recruitment and retention of highly talented providers has been a priority—and one of the greatest challenges.  Starting summers in 1981 and full time in 1988, Dr. Larson has been the leader in recruiting more than 200 providers to Hudson Headwaters, a success story that has made everything else possible for the Network.

“The real sense of accomplishment is in the provider group Victoria Wirth and I have helped to assemble over the years,” said Dr. Larson, “Our providers are a truly talented and dynamic group of individuals with a passion for helping patients in our region.  Perhaps even more important, is our incredibly low turnover rate among physicians and PAs and NPs.  We began with 5 MDs and 5 PAs and have grown to 85 MDs, 55 PAs and NPs combined, not to mention the addition of an incredible group of mid-wives, dentists, podiatrists, and behavioral health professionals.  Further, we have added a variety of physician-specialists who are critical to serving the community.  We’re proud to have brought such talent to the region for our patients.”

According to Dr. Rugge, “Dr. Larson is a leader of a very special group of providers who share a determination to bring excellent care to those who need it most.  All of us have been fortunate to have Dr. Larson’s passion and special talent for tracking down providers from every corner of the country and somehow persuading them to come our way.  Not only that, Dan is the only practitioner I know who is confident and capable in every clinical setting—the office, the hospital, nursing homes, schools, employee health—and also the jail!  With each of our new ventures, Dr. Larson has been the pioneering physician who starts the service, develops the model, and then turns the practice over to those whom he has recruited.  His is a special gift and involves real art.”

Hudson Headwaters has named Dr. Tucker Slingerland CEO of the network, also effective July 1st.  Slingerland, a family practice physician, has been with Hudson Headwaters for nine years, currently serving as Deputy CEO while also practicing clinical medicine.  He was previously the Network’s Vice President of Strategy and, prior to that, Lead Physician for the Moreau and Fort Edward-Kingsbury health centers.

“Dr. Slinglerland is respected by everyone here, is a proven executive, and brings a powerful vision to addressing health care needs both locally and regionally,” said Dr. Rugge. “He will be a CEO who has it all.”

“From day one, Hudson Headwaters has specialized in finding new ways to fix longstanding problems in order to meet community need,” said Dr. Slingerland. “I look forward to building on that heritage.  That’s where my compass is pointing.”

Dr. Slingerland notes that the North Country region is facing big challenges that need to be addressed.  “Our providers see the problems first-hand every day—old problems like poverty and smoking, new problems like substance abuse and high pharmaceutical costs.  Our pro-active approach has enabled us to help, often in ways that nobody else can. It’s a privilege to take on a position to lead Hudson Headwaters in accomplishing great things for the people who depend on us for care.”

Slingerland has a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, earned his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, and completed his medical training at the University of Vermont Medical College where he held the position of Chief Resident in Family Medicine.

“The entire Board is totally supportive of Tucker Slingerland in the role of Chief Executive Officer,” said Barbara Sweet, the Board Chair.  “With the continued support and availability of Drs. Rugge and Larson in their new roles, Hudson Headwaters is well prepared to do its job—to assure the highest possible quality of care to everyone in our communities, now and into the future.”