SARNIA, Ont. – After nearly a decade at Bluewater Health, Sue Denomy (pictured) is retiring as president and CEO. The 61-year-old announced that Dec. 31 will be her last day on the job.
Retirement has been on her mind for the last few years, said the 40-year veteran of the healthcare industry, who took over from former Bluewater Health CEO David Vigar in 2007.
But stepping aside didn’t feel right until now, she said. “You really need to come to terms with it in your head … and heart,” she said. “My heart has been in Bluewater Health. So it’s tough.”
Denomy, a registered nurse who started her career at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, said the time is right for a number of reasons.
Significant changes are afoot in healthcare, including a sea of change in how patients transition from hospital to community care, she said. Hospital information technology upgrades are also looming, not to mention ongoing struggles to balance books amid declining provincial revenue.
Another drop-off in funding from Ontario’s Health Ministry is expected this year and could mean a decrease in beds, she said.
“While my head is still very much in the game, I can see that it really needs somebody that can commit for the long haul to provide that leadership for some of these changes,” she said.
Denomy was at the helm for the biggest hospital project in Sarnia’s history – a $316-million merger of two Sarnia sites into one. It culminated with a massive patient and staff move from the now boarded-up former Sarnia General site in 2010.
But her biggest accomplishment, she said, was leading an organizational culture change at Bluewater Health – to make it more patient-focused.
“A big piece of that has been engaging front-line staff to understand, search out and use evidence-based best practice,” she said. “That’s the area I’m most proud of.”
Before she leaves, Denomy said her top priorities are to help the hospital corporation’s board of directors prepare for the transition, and to help refresh Bluewater Health’s strategic plan.
Immediate retirement plans include spending more time with family and travelling, said the married grandmother of two. Her husband, Ron, has been retired from accounting for 10 years, she said.
“He already goes to Florida for three months in the winter … so I’ll be able to go with him.” The couple live in Chatham, though Denomy has also had a condo in Sarnia to be closer to work.
Longer term, she said, she’d like to work in some capacity on developing neighbourhoods for seniors in municipalities.
There’s no word yet on who might replace Denomy or when the announcement will be made, said board of directors chairperson Lorri Kerrigan. “All our options are open.”
She thanked Denomy for her contributions to the corporation.“The board is extremely proud and appreciative of Sue’s many accomplishments,” she said in a news release.