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Northern Health names one of its own as new president

Ciro Panessa has served as northwest chief operating officer in Terrace since 2017
Ciro Panessa takes over as president and CEO of Northern Health on Sept. 5. (Contributed photo) Ciro Panessa takes over as president and CEO of Northern Health on Sept. 5. (Contributed photo)

While Northern Health searched the globe for a new president and CEO, the health authority ultimately settled on not just a British Columbian, but a northerner to replace outgoing top official Cathy Ulrich.

Ciro Panessa was born in Prince Rupert, raised in Vancouver and has spent the last nine years in Terrace. Since 2017, he has served as the chief operating officer for the Northwest Health Service Delivery Area (HSDA), one of the three regional HSDAs. The area includes from east to west Houston to Haida Gwaii and from south to north Kitimat to Atlin.

“We are especially pleased that after the rigorous selection process we were able to find our next leader from within the Northern Health organization,” said Colleen Nyce, chair of the Northern Health board of directors.

That process “attracted an impressive pool of both internal and external candidates and included multiple interviews, testing and reference checking to ensure a strong candidate was selected,” a press release noted

While Panessa may seem quite young for a CEO posting, he has racked up an impressive array of credentials in a short time.

In addition to University of British Columbia bachelor and master of science degrees in nursing, he also holds a Family Nurse Practitioner Advanced Graduate Diploma from Athabasca University. 

Prior to coming home to northwest B.C., he was director, blood-borne pathogens for the Ministry of Health.

During his health-care career, he has also been the recipient of several prestigious honours including the Premier’s Award for Innovation, the UBC Young Alumnus Award, a CIHR Fellowship for the National Canadian Research Training Program in Hepatitis C and the Canadian Nurses Foundation Fellowship for Hepatology Nursing.

“Ciro’s extensive experience in healthcare along with his lived experience of residing in the Northwest for many years will well-support people in rural communities across the Northern Health region,” said Jennifer Rice, North Coast MLA and parliamentary secretary for rural health.

Ulrich’s final official day is Sept. 1, although she has agreed to help with the transition process through the fall, the release stated.

“I would also like to thank Cathy Ulrich for her many years of exceptional, dedicated service to the people of Northern B.C. and wish her well during her retirement,” said Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health.

Panessa starts Sept. 5.

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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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