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Dr. Eric Lunn answers questions at a press conference at Altru Health Systems Tuesday after his introduction as the new president of Altru. Outgoing president Dr. Casey Ryan is in the background. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Altru announces new president

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Altru announces new president
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Chief Medical Executive Eric Lunn will become the next president of Altru Health System, the Grand Forks-based group announced Tuesday.

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A round of applause greeted him as he thanked the board of directors for their appointment and talked about his future at one of area’s largest employers with more than 4,100 employees.

“I’m humbled and honored to be chosen,” Lunn said at a press conference.

He will replace Casey Ryan, who has been president for 17 years. Ryan announced he would step down in May.

Lunn will be the system’s second president since United Hospital merged with Grand Forks Clinic to form Altru in 1997.

Lunn, who will assume presidency Jan. 1, is a pediatrician at Altru. He will continue that work during his presidency, the health-care group said.

The board chose Lunn based on his work in pediatrics, nearly three decades working for the health system and his diverse perspective of leadership, said Chairwoman Kris Compton.

Board members felt the best person to guide Altru would not only have the technical skills but also be someone who understood and embraced the culture, she said. The selection committee decided early on that the candidate would be an internal one, she said.

“There was no reason to look externally,” she said. “We were confident we had very strong internal candidates, and we did.”

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges facing Lunn in his new role is a changing health-care environment, he said.

Last year, Altru tightened its belt because of federal budget sequestration and patient reclassification by Medicare, he said. Health-care groups like Altru received less money for certain patients even though the level of care was the same as other patients, forcing the groups to continue providing the best care with less funding, he said. But that’s a challenge for health-care groups nationwide, he said.

Altru also hit a financial rough patch due to millions in reduced Medicare reimbursements and a high-operating loss that forced a pay cut for senior leadership and delays in hiring.

Several health-care officials spoke of warmly of Lunn Tuesday.

He has “all the right stuff” for the position — he’s a great listener, very intelligent and does the right thing, said Ryan. He’d attempted several times in the past decade to get Lunn involved in administration.

“His internal compass will really carry this organization and take it to higher levels,” Ryan said.

For several years, Lunn has been heavily involved in Altru administration. He’s held several leadership roles on boards at Altru, the former United Hospital and Grand Forks Clinic since 1989. Outside of Altru, Lunn has served on the Grand Forks School Board, to which he was reelected in 2012.

He said there’s a reason he’s stayed here for “27 years and three days.”

“Part of it is I love UND, I love Grand Forks, it’s a great place to raise a family,” he said. “But most of it is because I love my work at Altru Health System.”

It’s been a joy to work employees dedicated to Altru’s mission of delivering world-class healthcare, and the system’s success is because of those employees, he said.

“I see us continuing to work with partnership and teams throughout our system to continue to doing that,” he said.

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Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit www.grandforksherald.com. 
(701) 787-6736
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