Steve Cummings

In April, the Brattleboro Retreat welcomed Steve Cummings as its Interim Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Cummings served as the Retreat’s Chief Information Officer. With a background in both clinical care and healthcare administration, he is dedicated to advancing healthcare technology and brings a leadership philosophy focused on empowering employees and enhancing patient care. 

"I take a servant leadership approach where I feel like my job is to set everyone up for success," he explained. "I essentially work for every other employee here, as opposed to the other way around. The commitment of the staff and the meaningful work they do is inspiring. My goal is to provide them with the tools and resources they need to care for probably the most challenging patients in the state." 

Cumming’s career began as a registered nurse, giving him firsthand experience with patient care in demanding environments. "I started in healthcare a very long time ago as a nurse, spent about seven years at the bedside working in a neuro and pulmonary med-surg unit," he shared. He then advanced into critical care, working in intensive care units at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Transitioning from clinical roles, Cummings pursued an MBA from Babson College and embarked on a career spanning hospital administration, consulting, and working with electronic health record (EHR) vendors. "I've been on all sides of the table—hospital, vendor, and consultant—so I understand the complexities and can navigate them effectively," he said. 

One of his key initiatives is the implementation of a modern electronic health record system, aimed at streamlining operations and improving patient care at the Retreat. "We're replacing a very old system that has been customized in ways that broke long-term workflow processes. The new system, Meditech, will allow us to move away from paper-based processes and double documentation, making our clinicians' jobs easier and improving overall efficiency." 

Another focus of his is strengthening the organization's middle management through targeted training. "Investing in management and leadership training is crucial because being a good clinician doesn't necessarily make one a good manager, and I want to ensure our managers are well-equipped to lead effectively." 

Cummings also emphasized the importance of proactive collaboration and outreach. "I want to build more connections across the state, with other health systems and healthcare delivery groups, to find new ways to work together.” By developing these connections, he hopes to amplify the Retreat's mission of excellence in treatment, advocacy, and education. "We have a great story to tell about what we do and how we do it," he said.  

Part of this initiative involves revitalizing the Retreat's development efforts to attract donors by clearly communicating its impact. “We've changed a lot in the last couple of years. We've doubled our inpatient beds. A lot of people have no idea how many inpatient beds we have and what kinds of patients we take care of.”  

Cummings is eager to build on the momentum of his predecessor, Linda Rossi, who guided the Retreat to a position of financial stability and improved union relationships. "We can now think ahead and invest in new technologies and facilities, making our work more efficient and our employees happier. This positive momentum will help us attract and retain high-quality staff, reduce our dependency on temporary workers, and ultimately provide better care for our patients."