Horizon Health CEO to step-down next year

·2 min read
“I committed to Horizon that I would dedicate the final five years of my career in health care to this organization and the people it serves,” said Karen McGrath, President and CEO of Horizon Health. (Vitalite Health Network/Facebook - image credit)
“I committed to Horizon that I would dedicate the final five years of my career in health care to this organization and the people it serves,” said Karen McGrath, President and CEO of Horizon Health. (Vitalite Health Network/Facebook - image credit)

Horizon Health is officially on the hunt for a new CEO.

Karen McGrath, the head of one of the province's two regional health authorities, has announced she will step down next year.

Horizon Health said McGrath was unavailable for interviews Wednesday morning but did send along McGrath's letter to Horizon employees.

While McGrath didn't explicitly give a reason for her departure, she suggested her career in health care was over.

"I committed to Horizon that I would dedicate the final five years of my career in health care to this organization and the people it serves," said McGrath.

She said her January 22, 2022 end date would give Horizon lots of time to recruit a suitable replacement.

"The goal is to have a new leader hired to provide a seamless transition for all of you and our patients and clients," said McGrath.

"But make no mistake, I remain dedicated to you and Horizon and I still have many goals to achieve in the coming months before this transition occurs."

McGrath's announcement comes just four months after a shakeup at the province's other health authority.

In November, then Vitalité Health Network CEO Gilles Lanteigne announced he was stepping down and Dr. France Desrosiers, the current CEO was taking over the job.

Rural hospitals common thread

McGrath became CEO of Horizon in 2017, replacing John McGarry.

Prior to accepting the job, the Newfoundland and Labrador born McGrath served as the head of health and community services for Central Newfoundland and Labrador as well as head of the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

In a 2016 interview with CBC, McGrath said that rural hospitals were an issue that was high on her agenda as incoming CEO.

"It's important to engage them in the process of determining what the hospital is going to look like," said McGrath.

But in 2020 she would draw criticism by defending a government plan to cut overnight emergency room service at three Horizon hospitals, a decision that was announced without public consultation.

"The reality is that on average these emergency departments saw only five patients per night and most of these cases were not emergencies in critical situations such as trauma, heart attacks and strokes," said McGrath.

The province would later reverse that decision as pressure increased from stakeholders. It is now in the process of consultations on a five year plan for health care in New Brunswick.

In her letter McGrath said she's "committed to moving the Emergency Department review forward," and that "COVID-19 planning and response remains a priority."