ALAMOSA — Valley-Wide Health Systems on Friday announced its selection of Jeanne “Gigi” Darricades as new president/chief executive officer.
Darricades fills the vacancy left by long-time President/CEO Marguerite Salazar who after 21 years at the helm of Valley-Wide was appointed to serve as the Health and Human Services Regional Director.
Since then Ricardo Velasquez, M. D. has served in the capacity of interim CEO.
Darricades, an Alamosa resident, will carry on the leadership of one of the largest federally qualified health centers in the nation. As President/CEO, she will implement futuristic goals that will continue the current momentum that VWHS is demonstrating in the dynamic field of primary integrated health care.
“I believe in the mission of Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc., and I am committed to working for the continued success of Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc.,” she said.
She added that health care has been her passion and she is excited for the opportunity to serve in this field.
“I think Valley-Wide is an entity that’s very crucial to our communities in terms of access to health care and serving as an advocate for people who may not always have access,” she said. “I think it’s important that we continue to ensure quality and access and that we work hard to recruit and retain good health care providers.”
Originally from Chile, Darricades is bilingual. She earned an arts baccalaureate degree in political science and subsequently a master of public health degree in hospital administration from the University of California. She earned her law degree from the University of Utah College of Law.
She brings to Valley-Wide a wealth of knowledge and experience in the health care field, as well as knowledge of the legislative process, affiliations with legislators, and experience with not-for-profit boards. In addition, she is a practicing attorney. She also serves on the Adams State College board of trustees.
Darricades has engaged in numerous professional activities in both Colorado and out-of-state venues in the arenas of hospital mergers, hospital administration, establishing rural health care clinics, and performs work in the area of health care law. All these experiences and outstanding qualifications were valued highly by the VWHS Board of Directors in their discernment and selection.
While living in Albuquerque, N.M., Darricades served as an assistant regional administrator and established and directed a network of rural primary care clinics. She subsequently served as administrator for Mckinley General Hospital in Gallup, N.M., where she administered a city/county hospital, organized passage of a county mill levy tax for community hospitals, coordinated joint venture with Lovelace Medical Center to establish mixed specialty physician group practice on the hospital campus and established successful merger negotiations with another local community hospital.
Darricades later served as corporate director of medical affairs for Intermountain Health Care Inc., in Salt Lake City Utah, where among other duties she directed the development of Great Basin Physicians’ Corporation, an independent physician association of 2,000 practicing at Intermountain Health Care Hospitals.
Her significant experience in rural health care in New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado provides a strong background for her new position where she will continue the work of administering one of the most vital health care systems in the state.