Dartmouth Medicine HomeCurrent IssueAbout UsContact UsSearchPodcasts

Vital Signs

Hospital president James Varnum plans to retire in 2006

James Varnum, the president of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital for the past 27 years, has announced that he will retire in April 2006.

His has been a career marked by both constancy and change. He has been the president of MHMH since 1978 and of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance (DHA) since 1983. Yet stasis in his title has not meant stasis in the organizations he's headed. With the leaders of Dartmouth Medical School and the Dartmouth- Hitchcock Clinic, he has played a major role in bringing DHMC to national prominence.

"Jim Varnum is an exceptional leader who is respected not only in the Upper Valley but also nationally," said Alfred Griggs, chair of the MHMH and DHMC Boards, in an announcement of the retirement. "Jim has managed a very large, complex organization in an ever-changing environment by keeping foremost in his mind the importance of people. The result is that loyalty to Jim goes down the organizational structure as well as up."

Consortium: Among Varnum's achievements have been guiding the hospital through its 1991 move from Hanover to Lebanon, overseeing a subsequent $224- million expansion of the Lebanon campus, and establishing the DHA—now a consortium of 11 hospitals and organizations in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. His commitment to this regional network—which is based on strong, independent community hospitals—has contributed significantly to the quality of care in the region, according to Mary Susan Leahy, chair of the DHA Trustees.

Roots: "Jim never forgot Mary Hitchcock's roots as a community hospital," Leahy said in the announcement. "His passionate belief in patients being able to receive care in their own community when appropriate, backed by the services and resources of a major teaching hospital, was the founding impetus for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance. He brought a new spirit of cooperation and collaboration to the region that has bene- fited hospitals, communities, and the patients we all serve."

A 1962 graduate of Dartmouth College, Varnum earned a master's in hospital administration at the University of Michigan. He was CEO of the University of Washington Hospital and of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics before returning to Hanover to lead Mary Hitchcock.

Alan Smithee

If you'd like to offer feedback about this article, we'd welcome getting your comments at DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

This article may not be reproduced or reposted without permission. To inquire about permission, contact DartMed@Dartmouth.edu.

Back to Table of Contents

Dartmouth Medical SchoolDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College