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Brighton recruits Hazelden vet to succeed Bertin-Epp

October 6, 2010
by Lindsay Barba, Associate Editor
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The addiction hospital hires Daniel McCormick to lead the organization into the future of healthcare

When the needs of aging family members demanded more time than she could provide as the president and chief nursing officer at Brighton Hospital, Denise Bertin-Epp resigned in September and took on a role at Guest House (Lake Orion, Mich.) The departure of Bertin-Epp left Brighton, the nation’s second oldest addiction hospital, with some big shoes to fill.

Luckily, Daniel McCormick had recently completed his term as interim CEO of Hazelden and was ready and willing to take up post in Brighton, Mich. After relocating from Minnesota, McCormick began his tenure at Brighton on Sept. 14, taking over from Bertin-Epp after a three-week “handoff” process.

“The prospect of leading an organization that has a very rich history and a very bright future was very attractive to me,” he says of Brighton. Now that Brighton is part of Ascension Health’s St. John Providence Health System, McCormick looks forward to tackling the “complexity” of working within a larger healthcare enterprise—though he’s done it before as CEO of Albert Lea Medical Center (Minneapolis, Minn.), which also owns Fountain Centers.

“There are opportunities within to further develop addiction and behavioral health services, so I’m excited about that,” he says. “Being part of a larger continuum of healthcare services offers greater opportunities to connect and coordinate the overall healthcare services of the patients and families we serve.”

Already looking ahead
Though he’s been on the job only two weeks, McCormick is already forging Brighton’s path toward the future, which includes the impending effects of parity and healthcare reform.

“We live in a changing world, and it’s changing dramatically,” he says. “On one hand, we’re going to see more people with more access to mental health and addiction services.”




Daniel J. McCormick

McCormick notes that, right now, Brighton is only serving about 10 percent of those in need of addiction treatment. But with the effects of parity and reform, Brighton will have a stronger opportunity to reach that other 90 percent. “Our target over the long run is to be able to impact that 90 percent as effectively as we’ve been able to impact the 10 percent,” he adds.

McCormick is quick to point out that this has to be done with cost effectiveness in mind. “On the other hand, we’re challenged by the fact that the resources available for healthcare in our country are reaching … a breaking point,” he explains. “If we are able to get meaningful access to a broader population, we need to continually challenge ourselves to find cost effective ways to bring those services to the overall marketplace.”

With his education blending finance with healthcare administration and a track record of leadership in multi-hospital systems, managed care organizations, and international consulting, McCormick will surely find Brighton’s place in the post-parity world without inflating costs.

Picking up where Bertin-Epp left off
With the changing marketplace of healthcare at the forefront of his mind, McCormick is also picking up the reins on several innovative initiatives underway at Brighton.

For starters, Brighton was selected earlier this year to help establish the first-ever addiction treatment hospital in the Middle East. Located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Brighton will help to develop the facility’s technology, clinical treatment, and operational infrastructure.

Though he admits he has a lot to learn from Brighton’s staff about the project, McCormick is no stranger to international addiction services. During his leadership at Fountain Centers, he worked with the Swedish government to develop an addiction treatment prototype for the nation.

“We had an opportunity to take what then we referred to as a Minnesota Model of Treatment and export it to Sweden and connect it to the culture that existed there,” he says. “Addiction as a disease doesn’t manifest too much differently in Sweden than it does in the U.S. You have the same disease ideology, but you do have different cultural phenomena you have to deal with.”

One of the reasons Brighton was chosen as the management partner for the tentatively-named Saudi Care Brighton Hospital was its specialty electronic health record software, ebhr. Developed four years ago in partnership with Medical Communication Systems (MCS), the EHR is tailored to Brighton’s operations to streamline work and ensure efficiency.

“Having EHRs gives us access to clinical information in a way that is just impossible on a paper record system,” McCormick says. “More importantly, it enhances our ability to care for the patients and families.”

McCormick has his eye on the 2014 deadline for health IT compliance set by the Obama Administration. Though he notes that Brighton is “well down the path of being compliant,” he isn’t stopping there.

“We will have a focus and emphasis going forward on how we can best apply the technology that is out there to enhance the delivery of addiction treatment and recovery services,” he says.

But technology can be a daunting challenge, even for an experienced CEO like McCormick. Fortunately, he has what every leader would like on their side: an exceptional staff.

“What I’ve been met with at Brighton is a talented, passionate, and committed workforce,” he says. “We have some of the best people in the country delivering services here, and I think that is a great place for me to start my tenure as CEO here.”

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