Squires to leave Endowment for Health

Dr. James Squires, president of the Endowment for Health since its founding in 1999, has announced plans to step down from the post at the end of the year.The organization’s board said Mary Vallier-Kaplan, the foundation’s current vice president and chief operating officer, will serve as interim president on Dec. 31, following Squire’s retirement.Squires, founder of the Matthew Thornton Health Plan — the state’s first HMO — was instrumental in creating the Endowment for Health, which emerged from the proceeds of the sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire to Anthem Insurance. Its mission is to improve the health and reduce the burden of illness of the people of New Hampshire, focused primarily on under-served populations.”Jim is truly an asset to the state, and his leadership and example have provided the compass by which we will navigate the foundation’s future,” said Cordell Johnston, chairman of the Endowment for Health’s board. “Jim’s unique combination of medical, insurance and legislative experience, has been the cornerstone in establishing the foundation as a credible, nonpartisan funder and think tank on health and health policy in New Hampshire.”According to the Endowment, under Squires’ leadership, it has secured more than 750 grants, totaling more than $32 million, to support a wide range of health-related programs and projects in the Granite State.Squires, 73, also was instrumental in the formation of the New Hampshire Citizen’s Health Initiative in 2005.A noted general and vascular surgeon, Squires also served two terms as a state senator and ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2000.”In my life, I didn’t have a lot of time off with surgery and the Legislature, so I want to spend some time with my family and do some traveling,” said Squires.As for the Endowment, Squires said he knows full well there will be a culture change with a new president, “and my successor doesn’t need me hanging around.”He also said the way similar organizations work is also changing.”When I came to the foundation, it was in the process of being born. The board had formed and the basic mission was set, but the way of delivering that mission hadn’t been developed yet. It was still very much a startup,” he said. “The whole world has changed in a multitude of ways, none more so than the way we pay for and deliver health care. Foundations such as ours need to go about our work in a different way. That’s a signal to me that new blood is required. It’s the right time.”Squires said one of those “new ways” would be to look at a geographic location that is struggling – be it a street, town or region – and examine all the impacts to healthy living and what changes could be made.Such a mission, he said, would require the partnership of many agencies and organizations, large and small.”The single best determinants of health are income and education. A homeless person living on the street is not going to be healthy,” said Squires. “We want to seek ways for long-term investment in a place to try some ideas to make possible changes to some of the fundamental environmental factors to help these people out.” – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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