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Dr. Pepe leaves indelible contribution to health care in NH

Dr. Pepe leaves indelible contribution to health care in NH

Retired CEO of CMC Healthcare System to receive BIA’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Joseph Pepe retired as CEO of CMC Healthcare System this past June, leaving an indelible contribution to health care in the Granite State.

Dr. Pepe spent his entire professional career at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, rising from internist to CEO. Pepe, 60, served as the hospital’s chief executive officer from 2012 to 2021, earning the praise of being a transformational leader.

John Cronin, president of CMC’s board, called Pepe’s leadership extraordinary following the CEO’s September 2020 announcement of his plan to retire. “He is the heart and soul of this organization and a beloved and respected figure in our community,” Cronin said. “His achievements have been transformational for CMC, enhancing our mission of health, healing and hope, and laying the groundwork for future success.”

Pepe is being honored by the Business and Industry Association. BIA, New Hampshire’s statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate, will present him with its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at its 108th Annual Dinner and Awards Celebration, presented by Eversource. The event is 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown Hotel. The event will be livestreamed with support from Bank of America.

Claira Monier, executive director of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority from 1988 to 2007; and Harold Turner Jr., founder of The H.L. Turner Group Inc. also will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards, sponsored by Whelen Engineering Company.

Pepe retired early to spend more time with his family, including his wife, Anne-Marie, and their son, daughter-in-law and new grandson.

Pepe remains CEO of GraniteOne Health, CMC’s parent company, overseeing and facilitating the federal and regulatory approval of the combination of GraniteOne Health and its members with Dartmouth Hitchcock Health Care. He will continue work with GraniteOne Health through the completion of the combination. GraniteOne Health includes CMC Healthcare System, Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough and Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro.

Integration of health care organizations and hospitals has increased in recent years with several mergers among New Hampshire hospitals.

“It’s a necessary thing because of the huge regulatory compliance requirements as well as financial pressure,” Pepe said. “You need a larger structure to have a stronger infrastructure in order to provide better care.”

Pepe graduated from St. Anselm College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology, received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral training at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. He joined CMC right out of residency in 1990.

“I came back so to speak,” said Pepe, who grew up on Massachusetts’ North Shore in Peabody.

Pepe worked tirelessly to improve health care at CMC. In total, he served CMC for 31 years. Before becoming CEO, Pepe served as chief medical officer and practiced as an internist for many years. Under his tenure as CEO, CMC continuously provided more patient procedures, more minimally invasive procedures and incorporated the best health-care technologies.

“One of the amazing things at CMC is that it’s a gem many people don’t realize,” he said. “Literally, there are tens of procedures and technologies that we were the first in the area to have. Despite having the best hospitals in the country and in Boston, CMC has been first to the market many times.”

The value of quality health care starts at the patient level, but Pepe adds it reaches across communities and the state.

“When people choose to move somewhere the first thing they check is whether it’s safe and whether health care is in good standing,” he said. “When we can boast that health care is excellent in New Hampshire, people want to move here. It’s why we want to continue to make progress in our health care or people won’t come here or there’ll be leaving to go to Boston for health care. That’s inconvenient for the patient and the family.”

High-tech health care is important for the health of New Hampshire and its citizens, Pepe said. Assuring CMC has the best technology includes all aspects of care from surgery to tele-health ability. Pepe said technology has helped make more surgeries far less invasive. When Pepe started as an internist, patients were going in for open procedures and were in the hospital for 10 to 12 days.

“The technology is improving so well that now people can come in for operations and in many cases be discharged the same day,” he said, adding he expects to see even more minimally invasive procedures and less hospitalization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven the need for hospitals to be as efficient as possible. “We still need beds for people who get sick such as infections like we’re seeing with the COVID pandemic currently,” he said.

The pandemic ushered in a new era of telehealth, one Pepe says will only grow for hospitals, health care clinics and doctors’ offices. Telehealth is a valuable option in urban and suburban areas with strong health care, and it also can provide greater access in rural and remote areas. 

“That will keep patients local and not having to move or travel to other areas,” Pepe said. “Telehealth without a doubt will continue to progress. It’s one of the few things the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to kick start in the right direction.”

Pepe serves on the boards of GraniteOne Health, Monadnock Community Hospital and Huggins Hospital and on the St. Anselm College Board of Trustees. His past service includes the St. Peter’s Home Board of Trustees, Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Associates Board of TrusteesTufts Health Freedom Insurance Co. Board of Directors, and the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund Board of Directors. He served on BIA’s Board of Directors until his retirement.

Pepe plans to stay active in health care after he steps down as CEO of GraniteOne Health.

“First, I want to spend more time with family,” said Pepe, whose son, daughter-in-law and grandson live in Florida’s Tampa Bay area. “It’s a big part of my next 30 years.

“When things settle down even more, I want to do some teaching at one of the local colleges or medical schools. I feel like I have all this experience that I want to pass on. I’m looking to help others in that regard.”

Tickets for BIA'S 108th Annual Dinner and Awards Celebration, presented by Eversource, are $1,500 for a table of 10 or $150 per person and may be purchased at For more information, call (603) 224-5388 ext. 101. To learn about sponsorship opportunities, email Lora McMahon.

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