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McQuaid readies for DRH reign

David McQuaid gets called "Dennis" all the time.

 "It's because of the actor," he said. "It's no big deal."

 Many more people in the Durham community will soon know David McQuaid's name as he prepares to take over as chief executive officer of Durham Regional Hospital in late October. He fills a void open since March 1 when Richard Liekweg left to become CEO at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center.

 The current executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Bayview Medical Center in Maryland, McQuaid speaks eagerly about DRH and his new job.

 "In the beginning, I'll be spending a lot of time meeting with people and listening to what they have to say," he explained. His goals for the first few weeks include learning about the hospital and the community. "I want to understand the medical staff's concerns and issues and how we can work together to grow the institution," he added.

 Acting CEO Kevin Sowers will continue to be involved with Durham Regional through at least the first few months. The hospital is scheduled to undergo a Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations review the second week of November and Sowers will guide the hospital through that process. "There's no expectation of [McQuaid] to manage that," Sowers said. "I will support him in any way I can." Adjusting to Durham and Duke may be the most drastic change for McQuaid, 49, and his family--including his wife Kitty and nine-month-old daughter. He has extensive experience with local hospitals in an academic setting, serving in various administrative positions at two different community hospitals in the Johns Hopkins Health System group, a University-headed group similar to the DUHS. He has held his current posts at Bayview Medical Center for two years.

 Now a hospital-administration veteran, McQuaid will take on the task of managing an expanding and newly profitable Durham Regional, which turned a $3.3 million profit this year after five years of financial struggles. The hospital seeks to continue to expand its bariatric services and its orthopedics departments in the coming year and McQuaid will inherit this plan for the hospital.

 He said he is committed to expanding Durham Regional within the context of DUHS. Despite the pecuniary problems that will likely continue to plague Durham Regional--such as diminishing Medicare reimbursement costs, staff shortages and the rising cost of liability insurance--McQuaid remains excited about his new position.

 "Every position is going to have its challenges," he said. "The goal in life is to get a hospital to excellence, and it's hard work to get them there."

 McQuaid grew up in Ware, a tiny town in western Massachusetts, whose most famous native is Candy Cummings who developed the curve ball. Growing up, he knew he wanted to work in health care but was not quite sure how.

 "[Medical school] just wasn't something I wanted to do," he said. "I'd known a couple of people in my town that were influential and I would talk with them and we were quite friendly." These people, all of them pharmacists, talked McQuaid into applying to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, where he earned a bachelor's of science. He then went on to earn a master's of business administration from the University of New Hampshire.

 For the past 12 years, McQuaid has lived in Maryland, the heart of Terrapin country. McQuaid will attend "quite a few" Duke basketball games, he said. He was guaranteed tickets by Duke as part of his recruitment package, but he added that he does not expect to bleed Duke Blue any time soon.

 "I promise you that when you're not looking, I'll have the red side of my face showing."


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