Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

MHA Announces New Board Chair, Award Recipients at its 86th Annual Meeting  

Quotation marks with an EKG symbol

Emerson Health’s Christine Schuster Named Board Chair, Nurses and Ways & Means Leaders Honored

Christine Schuster, R.N., the president & CEO of Emerson Health, was elected as chair of the MHA Board of Trustees at the association’s annual meeting last Thursday. She succeeds Kevin Churchwell, M.D., the president & CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, and will serve a one-year term.

“It is a distinct honor to take on the position as MHA Board Chair at this pivotal time for the Massachusetts healthcare system,” said Schuster. “The challenges facing our providers are well known, and we will continue our focus on the state of the workforce, patient bed availability, and the overall viability of a stretched system. We are also prepared to embrace every opportunity to define the future of care delivery. This organization has never been more focused on making healthcare better for patients and caregivers alike.”

Schuster begins her tenure as MHA’s 82nd Board Chair at a time when severe capacity constraints, vast workforce shortages, deep financial instability, and new reforms significantly affect care delivery. Schuster is a long-time advocate for equal representation for women in healthcare leadership, and is regarded as a champion for community hospitals, having served as president and CEO of Emerson Health for 18 years.

Prior to leading Emerson, she was CEO of Quincy Medical Center and Athol Memorial Hospital. She also serves as Board Chair for the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals. Schuster was considered a “go-to” leader during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which she collaborated with leaders from large systems and community hospitals throughout the commonwealth to ensure bed availability for patients, and access to critical supplies, and resources.

“As long as I have known her, Chris has embodied the commitment and advocacy that are hallmarks of the Massachusetts healthcare community,” said MHA president & CEO Steve Walsh. “Her background as a nurse, mentor, and longtime CEO makes for a perfect combination to meet the needs of today. We are excited for what 2023 will bring as Chris leads our efforts to uplift patients and healthcare professionals across Massachusetts.”

The newest members of the MHA Board of Trustees include:

Laurie Glimcher, M.D., president & CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Robert Higgins, M.D., president, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and EVP, Mass General Brigham
Nancy Gaden, R.N., Senior VP & Chief Nursing Officer, Boston Medical Center
Darlene Rodowicz, president & CEO, Berkshire Health Systems

MHA’s Executive Committee for 2023 is:

Chair: Christine Schuster, president & CEO, Emerson Health
Chair-elect: Kevin Tabb, M.D., president & CEO, Beth Israel Lahey Health
Treasurer: Michael Lauf, president & CEO, Cape Cod Healthcare
Secretary: Anne Klibanski, M.D., president & CEO, Mass General Brigham
Immediate Past Chair: Kevin B. Churchwell, M.D., president & CEO, Boston Children’s Hospital
Past Chair Most Recently Retired: Eric Dickson, M.D., president & CEO, UMass Memorial Health
MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh

Maureen Banks, R.N., the chief operating officer and chief nursing officer of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, including Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston, received MHA’s prestigious 2023 William L. Lane Hospital Advocate Award. The award recognizes a hospital or health system leader for their exceptional efforts on behalf of their organization and the healthcare system at-large. It was established in 2004 to embody the spirit of William Lane, who served as a hospital CEO for more than 30 years and was an ardent advocate for patients and hospitals.

This year Banks is concluding her service as COO and CNO after more than 20 years of leadership in post-acute care. In presenting the Lane award, MHA highlighted Banks’ legacy as a champion for professional growth, innovation, research, and advocacy for non-acute providers. Many of Banks’ most notable achievements center on her work in supporting staff in obtaining R.N. licenses and continuing their post-graduate education. Banks herself obtained her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the MGH Institute for Health Professions in 2019.

“I am thrilled to congratulate Maureen on this well-deserved recognition,” said Joanne Fucile, R.N., VP of Hospital Operations and Associate CNO at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. “Her experience across the healthcare continuum allows her to understand the complexities of the system and innovate on behalf of her patients and her staff. Her incredible contributions to the healthcare community will leave a lasting legacy.” In addition to her work at Spaulding, Banks is an active member of the community and an advocate for individuals with disabilities. She serves as a trustee for the Perkins School for the Blind, and has advocated to include disability in Spaulding and Mass General Brigham’s DE&I mission.

MHA also took the opportunity of its first in-person gathering in three years to extended special honors to nurses, and the legislative leaders of the influential House and Senate Ways & Means committee that were responsible for helping to keep the entire healthcare system afloat during the pandemic.

Nancy Gaden, R.N., the senior vice president and chief nursing officer of Boston Medical Center addressed the annual gathering on Thursday night, outlining the challenges the nursing profession faced during the pandemic.

But now, post pandemic, the challenges are even greater, she said. “Without the adrenalin and incredible raw energy that we relied on for almost three years, we are watching nurses reevaluate their careers in the context of their emotional and mental health, the flexibility they desire, how safe they feel at work, and how satisfied they are with the care they are able to provide to their patients every single shift,” Gaden said. She impressed upon the gathering the need to reassess the profession, to embrace the fact that young nurses entering the profession are looking for flexibility in their work environments.

“Nurse leaders have a deep commitment and desire to make the world a better place for nurses,” Gaden said. “We want our staff to know that nurse leaders are their biggest advocates. And, of course, this is a challenge as we balance quality, safety, and nursing satisfaction with the financial pressures in our organizations … Our nursing departments need innovation, and creativity, and boldness. We need to respond to the issues that our nurses have told us are most important to them.” MHA presented all hospital CNOs with the gift of a compass, symbolizing the direction they provide to their staff and the healthcare system.

The chairs of the House and Senate Ways & Means Committees at the State House, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) were presented with MHA’s Hero Award on Thursday. The Health and Hospital Hero Award was created to recognize a public official(s) who has demonstrated outstanding advocacy on behalf of Massachusetts patients and healthcare providers.

“The financial support that you helped provide saved providers in this room form the brink,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh. “You showed up and stood up when it mattered the most. You’ve always been compassionate, you’ve always been collaborative – no doubt. But this session was just different. You both were, in effect, caregivers. You literally made decisions in the people’s building that saved lives. When the chairs of Ways & Means, elected officials in a government office, are sharing the same mission as the caregivers in our commonwealth we are working as one for your constituents, for our patients, and for all of our loved ones that needed service in the commonwealth’s hospitals