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Mary Whalen named Samaritan Medical Center’s chief operating officer

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WATERTOWN — Samaritan Medical Center has named Mary D. Whalen as its chief operating officer.

Hospital spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle said the company sought out Mrs. Whalen, who had an extensive history working for Samaritan until 2006, specifically for the position. Because of Samaritan’s recent growth, the additional administrative role was restored.

“We really had the hospital as the anchor facility,” Ms. Kittle said. “Now, with the expansion of the organization in terms of more than doubling long-term care beds, affiliations with Clifton-Fine Hospital and Carthage Area Hospital, and what we term Captive P.C., under which our specialty practices fall, if you look at the growth we’ve experienced over five years, it became necessary to bring back an individual for COO of the medical center.”

Mrs. Whalen said although she hadn’t anticipated returning to Samaritan, she is happy to be involved in the organization during an “exciting time in health care.”

Amid a restructuring plan in May 1999, Samaritan’s COO position was cut, and then restored 10 months later. Deborah A. Vink was then named to the post until 2004, when the COO role again was cut and duties were absorbed by other administrative leaders at the hospital, including former Chief Financial Officer Paul A. Kraeger.

According to a news release issued by Samaritan, the COO position will allow Chief Executive Officer Thomas H. Carman to “transition to a more strategic role, focused on strategic planning as well as the needs of the Samaritan affiliates and the overall system.”

It was Mr. Carman, Mrs. Whalen said, who made a compelling case for her to re-join the Samaritan team.

“Mr. Carman has been involved significantly, especially in the past four years, with Clifton-Fine, that affiliation, and other areas we were asked to step in,” Ms. Kittle said. “He really has been focusing on those external things while balancing things here at the hospital.”

In recent years, Samaritan also was in a receivership role of the former Mercy Care Center of Northern New York, and oversaw operations at the North Country Family Health Center until just recently.

Mrs. Whalen officially rejoined the Samaritan team Tuesday, and has “jumped right in,” Ms. Kittle said.

According to the hospital news release, for the past several years Mrs. Whalen has run her own consulting company, providing health care consulting services throughout the state. She previously had been Samaritan’s vice president of regulatory affairs and Samaritan Family Health Network at Samaritan. Her roles included compliance and privacy officer, chief audit executive, interim vice president of nursing and oversight of medical staff services, quality, risk management and legal services. After her 2006 departure, she also served in interim roles at Samaritan, including director of health information management and administrator for Samaritan Family Health Network and Samaritan Medical Practices.

She now will lead Samaritan’s day-to-day operations.

Mrs. Whalen has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Alfred University and a master’s degree in business administration in public accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology, and is licensed in the state as a registered nurse and certified public accountant.

She and her husband, Fred, reside in Sackets Harbor.

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