Following the recent retirement announcement by Patricia Warner, executive director of the C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, the University of Michigan Health System announced on Thursday that officials have hired an interim executive director, effective April 5.

Chris Dickinson, who currently serves as an associate chief medical officer, will be taking over the position, and said he is eager to continue working on the challenges of accommodating the expansion of the hospitals while continuing to improve care.

“It’s a big challenge — we’ve got the new building to make sure that it’s working well, our volumes are up, we’re seeing more patients than we ever anticipated,” he said. “With that comes some challenges, but we’re meeting those, and it’ll be interesting to see how that growth happens.”

When the hospital opened on Dec 4, Dickinson served as the faculty lead for the project, coordinating the move from the old buildings. He said his role as an administrator assisting in the opening of the hospitals last year influenced his decision to accept the position.

“For the kid who always used to like to play with his Legos and build things, this was fun,” he said.

Dickinson said his relationships with physicians at the University hospital and across the state helped bolster his qualifications for the job.

“I think I have an intimate understanding of how the hospital works. I spend a lot of time in hospital operations,” he said. “I’ve worked in clinics all over the state, so I have relationships and the knowledge of what other pediatricians are doing in the state as well.”

Warner, who is set to retire April 4, also pointed to Dickinson’s rapport with colleagues as a sign of a successful leader

“Dr. Dickson represents the physician members of our faculty very well,” Warner said. “He understands clinical practice, he understands how to bring various groups together around a challenge or an issue or an opportunity, and he’s a strong facilitator.”

Warner, who appointed Dickinson to be the associate chief medical officer for the hospitals after she created the position in 2010, added that her experiences working with him have been positive.

“I know Dr. Dickinson well in many capacities, and have every good reason to be confident this is a very wise interim appointment,” she said.

Though the national search for a permanent executive director for the hospital is still ongoing, Dickinson said he will likely seek to permanently obtain the position in the future.

“A lot of people have asked me (to become director) and the answer is ‘I think so,’” he said. “That was one of the advantages of having the interim tag. It’ll be a good trial run for me to see whether this is something I want to do long-term or not.”

The UMHS has no deadline or target date to hire a candidate, UMHS spokeswoman Margarita Wagerson wrote in an e-mail interview.

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