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Chief executive says she misses the trenches

3soupclose - Renee McInnes (Alex Jones)
Alex Jones
Renee McInnes succeeded Meg Doherty, who ran the NVNA for 30 years.

When Renee McInnes started out more than 20 years ago working as a nurse for the Norwell Visiting Nurse Association, she loved working in the field and never imagined that one day she’d be in charge of the nonprofit healthcare agency.

But she has been since summer of 2016 when she was named chief executive of what is now called the NVNA and Hospice, following the retirement of Meg Doherty, who ran the agency for 30 years.

“I do miss being in the trenches sometimes,” said McInnes, whose jobs over the years included nurse, sales and marketing, and business development. “I get a little of that when working with our clinical managers or operations in discussing complex cases. Which is the nice thing about not being a big corporation -- you get more involved with people.”

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Besides providing in-home health care, the bulk of the NVNA’s business, the biggest challenge is remaining independent, she said.

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“We’re a standalone nonprofit serving 28 towns and don’t belong to a bigger-picture health-care system,” she said. “The biggest threat to nonprofits like us is being squeezed out by mergers and large for-profit companies encroaching on the New England area. But the board of the NVNA and myself are committed to remaining independent and serving the community.”

One of the biggest changes in her career is seeing a shift from in-hospital to at-home care, McInnes said.

“Studies show people recover much better at home; there’s less infection risk; they heal quicker not just physically but emotionally,” she said. “For our part, we have to have great clinical assessment skills.”

The work her staff does has not gone unnoticed: For many years, the NVNA and Hospice has been named a Top 100 HomeCare Elite agency, and in October was added by the Boston Globe to its Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in the state.

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“It’s really about the community, keeping health care local, working with hospitals, physicians’ groups, and others, all for the community,” McInnes said about what fuels her continuing passion for her work. “It’s all very challenging, but very rewarding.”

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian@aol.com.