New CEO and Chief of Staff at Health Sciences North
October 11, 2023
SUDBURY, Ont. – The Board of Directors of Health Sciences North (HSN) and the Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) are pleased to announce two major leadership appointments. Dr. David McNeil (pictured on left), PhD, will be returning home to serve as the president and chief executive officer of both HSN and HSNRI, while Dr. Pankaj Bhatia (pictured on right ) is being promoted to the role of chief of staff for HSN.
McNeil worked at HSN for 28 years including more than two decades on the executive team including senior vice-president before taking on the CEO role for Brant Community Health Care in Southwestern Ontario for the past five years. He takes over from Dominic Giroux who left in June to become CEO of Hôpital Montfort in Ottawa.
“David personifies excellence and is an expert on the challenges and opportunities facing healthcare in Northeastern Ontario,” said HSN/HSNRI board chair Stéphan Plante. “In the past five years at Brant Health, he has overseen an improved financial position and significant improvements in staff, physician, and patient engagement. When I think of the skills and the experience we need right now, I can think of no one better for the job.”
McNeil holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Masters in Health Administration, and a PhD in Rural and Northern Health. After graduating from Laurentian University in 1988, he began his career as a nurse in the James Bay community of Attawapiskat. Over the years, he has also served as board chair for both Cambrian College and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario among a number of other roles.
“I am thrilled to return to HSN and HSNRI,” said McNeil. “It is known provincially as an institution of healthcare excellence and a place of tremendous opportunity for those working in the sector. I started at HSN in 1991 as a staff nurse and to be returning as the CEO is a testament to the opportunities and growth available. I’m thrilled to be joining the tremendous teams at HSN and HSNRI. I can’t wait to get back to work here.”
Joining David McNeil on the leadership team is the chief of staff role is Dr. Pankaj Bhatia, who succeeds Dr. John Fenton. Dr. Bhatia has been at HSN for 12 years and currently serves as medical director of the HSN Simulation Lab.
An award-winning physician who graduated from the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Bhatia is also strongly committed to education and mentoring, having played a key role at NOSM University over the years as an associate professor and program director of the General Surgery Residency Program.
In this role, he will work with the medical staff and administration in the delivery of quality and safe medical care for our patients.
“We are so excited to have Dr. Bhatia in this role,” added Mr. Plante. “He has a strong interest in continuous quality improvement as it pertains to healthcare delivery and is sensitive to the unique cultural needs of our Northern Ontario communities. His continued focus on enhancing the mission of HSN as a leading academic health sciences centre will help us continue our momentum moving forward.”
The appointments of both David McNeil and Dr. Bhatia were unanimous Board decisions. Both appointments come at an excellent time as HSN is about to begin the process of developing a new Strategic Plan.
Mr. Plante would like to thank all those who gave so generously of their time as members of the selection committees.
On behalf of both boards, he would also like to commend and thank Mark Hartman who served as Interim HSN CEO since June and Dr. Robert Ohle who has been Interim CEO of HSNRI during the same time period.
Finally, Mr. Plante would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to Dr. John Fenton who has served as chief of staff the past six years, three of which included leading through the pandemic.
Dr. Bhatia begins his three-year term as chief of staff on October 30th.
David McNeil begins his five-year term as president and CEO on October 16th.