CEO Tapped for Iraq Experience
Morgan Memorial CEO Cannington to assist healthcare efforts in Iraq
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
The e-mail began, “This is no joke.” As Morgan Memorial CEO H.D. Cannington read on, he learned that a healthcare colleague—Dr. Wayne Myers, formerly of the federal Office of Rural Health Policy—was seeking Cannington’s presence on a team of health professionals traveling to Iraq. The team will give advice to the Iraq Ministry of Health on how to re-develop and revitalize that country’s healthcare system.
“I’m reading the e-mail, thinking, ‘This is an excellent opportunity—is there any way I can work this out?’” said Cannington in an interview Thursday.
Indeed there was, and Cannington began whirlwind preparations to leave the country. His all-expenses paid trip began Sunday, June 15. He traveled from Atlanta to Washington, Frankfurt, Amman and points east, a scant 11 days after first hearing of the trip on Wednesday, June 4. He’s been in constant contact with his traveling companions and sponsoring organizations since, and what he can tell friends and co-workers about his trip is this—he’s going to Iraq as part of a three-person team that will attend a conference of doctors and healthcare workers in Iraq next week.
The team is expected to meet with the Iraqi Minister of Health, and give advice on a number of topics, including clinical operations, financing, quality control, and communications as they relate to public health.
“I think this is a great opportunity for H.D., and it’s not costing the hospital a thing,” said Terry Evans, chairman of the Morgan County Hospital Authority. “I think it’s great for Morgan Memorial to have its CEO go on this trip, to have our hospital be nationally recognized,” said Evans. Cannington, Myers (not the Dr. Wayne Myers lately retired from the Morgan County Primary School), and Oklahoma consulting pharmacist Dr. Paul Brown will travel to Iraq and work for ten days or so from the International Medical Corps (IMC) compound in Baghdad. IMC is involved in the proposed construction and staffing of 142 primary-care clinics across Iraq, said Cannington. He was selected for the team because he knew Myers when the two were both part of the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health; Cannington is an expert on rural health care issues.
Increased patient censuses and increased revenues at Morgan Memorial in recent months may attest to his expertise. His wife Cheryl is excited for him, says Cannington; his four adult children have mixed feelings. But Cannington is excited. “We’ll be staying in the Green Zone, just a couple of blocks from the American embassy,” he said. “The worst part is going to be the flight out—it takes a day and a half to get there.”
The local CEO hopes to bring back experiences and information from his work abroad that can help MMH continue to flourish. “Any time you see how other people address health care needs, that is always of benefit,” said Cannington.
“As CEO of Morgan Memorial, I’m in charge of the day-to-day running of the hospital, as well as long-range planning…as we move into improving the health of our community, we can’t do it just from a hospital standpoint. I think going into a region where we’re talking about all aspects of health care, improving health care in a community, that’s something I can bring back.”