Press Release

Rick Palmisano to Lead AHA's Section for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services

Richard T. Palmisano, R.N., M.S., C.H.E., president and chief executive officer of Northern Berkshire Healthcare in Berkshire County, Mass., is the 2007 chair of the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Section for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services.

Northern Berkshire Healthcare serves the communities of western Massachusetts, upper New York and southwestern Vermont.  Anchored by the newly renovated North Adams Regional Hospital, a 121-bed acute care facility, the system also includes the Northern Berkshire Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice; Sweetbrook, a 184-bed skilled nursing facility; Sweetwood, a 70-unit continuing care retirement community for elders, and REACH Community Foundation that supports primary and secondary prevention across the age spectrum in collaboration with health care and social service organizations.  With approximately 850 employees, Northern Berkshire Healthcare is the second-largest employer in northern Berkshire County.

Palmisano began his service on the AHA's Section for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services in 2002.  He is an active member of numerous medical and psychiatric professional organizations, served as president of the National Psychiatric Alliance from 1999 to 2005 and was an invited guest at President Clinton's first White House Council on Mental Health in 1999.

Palmisano earned his bachelor's degree in nursing and his master's degree in nursing management from Northwestern University in Chicago.  He is board certified in health care management through the American College of Healthcare Executives. 

Ted Hirsch, chief operating officer of Northwest Healthcare/Kalispell Regional Medical Center in Kalispell, Mont. was named chair-elect and will assume the role of chair in 2008.  Sul Ross "S.R." Thorward, M.D., staff psychiatrist at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare, and trustee, OSU Harding Hospital in Columbus, Ohio is the immediate past chair.

Elected to three-year terms on the governing council were: Mark Eastburg, Ph.D, president and chief executive officer, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carol Ashton-Hergenhan, trustee, Jeanes Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.; Richard A. Paul, director of Behavioral Health, Miller-Dwan Medical Center, St. Mary's Duluth Clinic Health System, Duluth, Minn.; Gayle Jensen- Savoie, director of Behavioral Medicine and Social Services, Presbyterian Hospital of Plano/Seay Behavioral Health Center, Plano, Texas; and Robin Henderson, PsyD, director, Behavioral Health Services, St. Charles Medical Center, Bend/Redmond, Ore.  C. Scott Bond, administrator and chief executive officer, Providence St. Peter Hospital, part of Providence Health and Services, Olympia, Wash., was elected to a one-year term.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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