New CEO picked at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital

Denise Schepici picked to run hospital.

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Denise Schepici is the new CEO of Martha's Vineyard Hospital.

She first visited the Island as a college freshman and fell in love, had her honeymoon here, built a summer home with her husband in Vineyard Haven, and now she’s going to work here.

Denise Schepici, 60, was hired as the new CEO and president of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Her appointment was approved by the board of trustees on Dec. 28, and announced in a hospital press release Tuesday. She begins her work Jan. 16.

“I’m ecstatic,” Ms. Schepici told The Times Tuesday. “I came here in college with a friend, and fell in love with the Island.”

Ms. Schepici moved to Vineyard Haven in April. She had most recently served as chief administrative officer at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, but has been a healthcare administrator for more than 30 years.

Ms. Schepici takes over after a tumultuous year at the hospital, which saw the firing of Joe Woodin as CEO and president after a little more than one year on the job. The hospital’s previous CEO, Timothy Walsh, took over on an interim basis until a new CEO could be hired.

Ms. Schepici, who had moved to the Island full-time by the time Mr. Woodin was let go in June, has read the press clippings, and understands the volatility it created both at the hospital and in the community.

“There is healing and bridge-building that needs to be done between the hospital and the community,” she said. “I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and being active in the community.”

Ms. Schepici left MetroWest Medical Center in early 2017 after having been at the hospital for three years. The hospital is owned by Tenet Healthcare out of Dallas, Texas, which owns about 80 hospitals. When the CEO stepped down, she stepped in for a few months, but with her apartment lease up, she was ready to move on.

“It was hard to leave the Island every Sunday and go back to something I didn’t want,” she said. “I had three bosses in a few months. That isn’t what I signed up for. I loved the hospital and it was hard to leave, but my heart wasn’t there.”

While she was on sabbatical, a headhunter working for Partners HealthCare, the parent of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, came knocking and asked her to apply. While she was interviewing, she took some time to volunteer in the community with Vineyard Village at Home, taking elderly residents to doctors’ appointments. “I never had time to do that stuff,” she said. “I think it was as good for me as it was for them.”

Ms. Schepici has more than 30 years of healthcare leadership and management experience in various settings, including academic medical centers, integrated health systems, and community hospitals. While still a senior in college, she began as a technician in the cardiac catheterization lab at Salem Hospital, now North Shore Medical Center, according to the hospital’s press release. After graduation, Ms. Schepici advanced at North Shore to become executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

In 2003, Ms. Schepici joined Tufts Medical Center, where she served until 2014, rising to the position of senior vice president of clinical services before moving over to MetroWest Medical Center. Ms. Schepici holds a bachelor’s from Boston University Sargent College of Allied Health and a master’s in public health from Boston University School of Public Health. “As both a highly respected healthcare professional and longtime admirer of the Vineyard, it felt like a perfect fit,” Susan Crampton, chairman of the search committee, said in a prepared statement. “The board of trustees unanimously agreed.”

At Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Ms. Schepici said, she has signed a five-year contract, though she declined to disclose the terms.

Mr. Walsh said he wasn’t involved in the negotiations, but praised the choice of Ms. Schepici to lead the hospital. “It’s terrific. People are really going to like Denise,” he said. “She’s a star. It’s great for the Island and the hospital.”

There were 20 candidates considered for the job; that number was narrowed down to six, and then ultimately three, finalists, Mr. Walsh said. Ms. Schepici rose above those other finalists because of her experience and her knowledge of Martha’s Vineyard, he said. Two other finalists had experience with critical care hospitals in middle America, Mr. Walsh said.

Mr. Walsh said he will make himself available to Ms. Schepici, but is looking forward to getting back to retirement. “She needs to come in and meet everybody and start her process of setting up her team,” he said.

Ms. Schepici said her first order of business is to meet with her administrative staff and learn what the issues and priorities are. She plans to do a lot of listening.

“This is my home now. I’ve given up a lot to take on this job,” she said. “Hopefully, it will be a different relationship than people have seen in the past.”

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has a lot going for it, Ms. Schepici said. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful hospital. I hope people realize what a gem they have here,” she said. “It’s challenging. It’s scaled small obviously, but the needs are great. Hospitals can’t be all things for all people.” The Island hospital is fortunate to have ties to Massachusetts General Hospital, she said, and, “This is my dream job.”