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Ann Hathaway Peter’s Memoriam

Last week, Lamprey Health Care lost our greatest champion, Ann Hathaway Peters. Ann was our CEO for over three decades. She led our agency from a one-room office to a multi-center agency that now serves over 16,000 people across Southern NH. Ann pushed, decades before integrated care was fashionable, to expand the services the health center offered, adding in-office prenatal care, school-based dental, and behavioral health. She challenged and empowered our staff to adopt electronic health records a full fifteen years before becoming commonplace in the industry. In every sense of the word, Ann built the foundations upon which Lamprey Health Care stands today. Just as a dropped pebble causes ripples across a pond even after it is out of sight, Ann’s impact on both Lamprey Health Care and N.H.’s health care sector will continue. Her obituary speaks to her personal and professional legacy, and we encourage you to visit and leave a note of remembrance for her family. Due to limits on large gatherings, services will be available via webcast.

In the meantime, we would like to share some of our favorite memories of Ann and her lasting influences.

 

Oh, You’re From Lamprey

Rosemary Smith, Board Member 1979-1996, Family Nurse Practitioner 1999-2019

Ann always helped people to work to their fullest capacity. I saw this both as a Board member and then as a provider at the Raymond center. She had a contagious, can-do attitude. I was on the Board of Directors when we hired her, and I can remember her interview. Lamprey was only a few years old at the time, and we needed a strong leader. I recall her confident demeanor and assurances that she understood the challenges we were facing. She was unwavering in her belief that she knew what was needed to grow the organization and that she could lead us there.

She was so focused on ensuring the quality of our services, making sure we held ourselves to the highest standard. She worked tirelessly to understand what we needed, as nurse practitioners, to be successful for our patients. She created space, dedicated nurse practitioner meetings, where we could discuss concerns that might differ from the other clinical staff. She couldn’t always do what we asked, but she listened and worked with us to address our needs. That type of grassroots support was critical and never beneath her.

Ann was such a humble person. I never truly understood her stature until a trip in the early 80s to a NACHC (National Association of Community Health Centers) conference in Washington, DC. So many people were coming up to us, excited to meet us, looking at our name tags and commenting, ‘Oh, you’re from Lamprey.’ That recognition on a national stage was because of Ann, and we were only a few years into her tenure at that point. It was the first time I realized how valued our work was to the nation. Little did we know when we interviewed her, all that she would accomplish. She more than exceeded our vision, but this was not surprising, as hers was limitless.

 

The Good Ol’ Boss

Sandy Pardus, Chief Financial Officer, 1983-2014

Ann would do crazy stuff. One of my favorite adventures with her was when we were on Cape Cod for a NECHCA (New England Community Health Center Association) conference. It was the night of the Perfect Storm in 1991. We had finished up the conference and stopped for dinner. We were with David Reynolds and Cornell Scott, two other Community Health Center leaders. We noticed that there were these two doors in the restaurant that a stream of people kept ducking into, but we couldn’t tell what was going on. As we were getting ready to leave, Ann insisted we check it out. It turned out to be a Halloween party; people decked out from head to toe in wild costumes. Instead of driving home, Ann leads our group to the dance floor. Despite the storm raging outside and the several hours of driving ahead of us, she had a blast kicking up her heels with strangers dressed as witches and zombies.

Ann was just so much fun, so knowledgeable, larger than life really. You can’t possibly begin to describe her. Everyone knew of her love of gardening, but she also loved to give. When I got married, she did all the flowers for my wedding. She grew them and made all the arrangements. At that point, I had only worked for Lamprey for three years. Just think about that. How many people can say their boss would do something like that? And it came from a place of kindness and generosity. I always think of her as the good ol’ boss. Everyone mattered to her. She was an unbelievable person who cared deeply and shared deeply.

 

Dig In

Sarah “Sally” Oxnard, MD, Chief Medical Officer, 1975-2019

Ann Peters was our fearless leader for three decades. She grew Lamprey Health Care from a small blood pressure screening clinic located over a bartender school in downtown Newmarket to the largest Community Health Center in New Hampshire, with three centers, close to two hundred employees, and thousands of patients. Her physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, staff, and Board of Directors appreciated her mission-driven, eloquent, and industrious style. We also appreciated her love of fine baked goods and ice cream, as she also loved to share! Any meeting where Ann spoke to the staff about the budget or visiting auditors or a new quality initiative left us all fired up to dig in and do our best; to give the best care to our patients and our community. “If you are not growing, you are dead,” was her motto. She truly left her stamp on the agency and her Lamprey Health Care family. We all miss her.

 

Speaking Of Food

It is impossible to think of Ann without thinking of food…

“To every Lamprey party, she always brought that amazing fougasse flatbread from Beach Pea and a chocolate raspberry cake from Sweet Dreams.”

“She loved to go out for Chinese food, and it was always someone’s birthday.”

“Remember when she would decide it was pizza day in the office?” “Yes! But we had to be sure to get her favorite, bacon, and artichoke.”

“Yogurt, yogurt, and more yogurt. The refrigerator was overflowing with her stockpile, all different flavors for whatever mood might strike.”

“Frappes from Brigham’s, ice cream from Johnson’s Dairy Bar, French fries from McDonald’s; she always had a place scoped out to grab a snack and keep her going.”

 

The Usual Suspects

Michelle Gaudet, Executive Assistant, 2004-2013

I remember the day I interviewed for the role of Ann’s assistant. I was brought into her office to wait while she attended to some other pressing issue, and I was immediately overwhelmed. For those who never saw her office, it was quite a sight. Her desk was a towering pile of papers, colored note pads, and file folders intermingled with newspaper clippings, awards, and personal tchotchkes. Behind her desk were shelves so crammed with binders, reports, and business magazines that to file even one more piece of paper would mean inevitable papercuts and hangnails. The conference table had a few piles of paper, but it was evident that it was only because most of the piles had been moved to the floor, probably for a previous meeting. I remember thinking, yes, this woman needs an assistant.

As I waited for her to arrive, I started to look a little closer around the room and began to feel as though I was in the movie The Usual Suspects. You know the scene where the detective looks at the bulletin board covered with newspaper clippings, and the villain’s fictional story comes into focus. The Hubert Humphrey quote taped to her desk is what drew my focus. It read,

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”

Ann came into the room, and she saw me looking at the quote. She told me she felt that scrap of paper was the most important thing in her office. It was the why, why Lamprey existed, to care for the community. But beyond that, why we are here in life, to care for each other. We spent the entire interview talking about that quote and how we could bring its spirit to life in our work and our community. Every moment in Ann’s office was like that. If all you saw were the piles on her desk, you missed the big picture. Buried in those piles were countless gems, and she doled them out generously. She was always willing to share her time and knowledge; to strive for the big, lofty, crazy ideas. She always believed we could save the world, one healthy person at a time, and she made you believe it too.

 

Just Do The Work

Paula Smith, Director of Southern NH AHEC, 1998-Current

I am so appreciative of the mentorship and opportunities Ann gave me, especially as I was starting my career. I met Ann in the mid-80s when I was a student intern at the U.S. Public Health Service. We stayed connected through the years because that was how she was. She knew everyone, and once she met you, she knew you. And she would remember the things that were important to you. At some point during those years, she saw something in me, and when she was recruiting for the role of Director of Southern AHEC, she reached out, encouraging me to apply. At the time, I was going through some challenges in my personal life, and I told her that I wasn’t sure I would be up to the task. Ann said, “you at 50% is better than some at 100%. I don’t care where you work or when you work, just do the work.” This was decades before remote work or work-life balance was even thought about, much less promoted. Ann was so strategic in her thinking, not just about agency programs or budget, but in investing in her team’s talents.

I have this vivid memory of a time where I had a family obligation, which meant that I was going to be 15 minutes late for a meeting. It was an important meeting, and Ann’s response was to move the meeting 15 minutes so I could continue to participate. It was a small thing, but it spoke volumes about how she valued my contributions as a professional. She knew that if you gave flexibility, role-modeled community interaction, and respected people through really listening to their needs, you developed a team that would give back to you tenfold.

She taught all of us how to be strategic in our thinking and our everyday actions. I feel like, over the past 20 years, I have been impactful in N.H., but I could never have done any of it without Ann’s mentorship and confidence in me.

 

The Notorious AHP

Anita Rozeff, Grants Manager/Compliance Officer, 2000-Current

Ann was so very special. It’s difficult to grasp her passing, perhaps because it is almost impossible to articulate her impact. It is quite a parallel that she left us in the same week as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Both of them came of age at a time when women were not considered leaders. A time when a professional woman was perceived to be taking something that belonged to a man. A time when strong women were viewed as incapable because, surely, their family obligations would prevent them from doing the job. Like RBG, AHP tackled sexism, both head-on and by opening doors for future generations. She knew firsthand the challenges professional mothers faced and was committed to removing those challenges at Lamprey.

Family always came first for Ann, and she made sure we knew that we didn’t have to sacrifice our families to be successful professionals. Ann never forgot the inequities she faced as a single mother in the 70s, and she used that experience, that empathy, to guide her work. Whether breaking down barriers to care for marginalized communities or developing policies to empower her team, Ann always believed in creating an environment where everyone could have an equal opportunity to do their best.

I’m not the only one who sees the connection between RBG and AHP. Mary Ann Johnson, ARNP, Family Nurse Practitioner for over 25 years at our Raymond center, commented, “she was gutsy, smart, a brave woman in a world of health care dominated by men. She was informed, aggressive in the face of adversity, and totally sold on the mission to provide care to those who had not had that opportunity. It is fitting that RBG and AHP are meeting up this week.”

Ann mentored many women throughout her lifetime. I am sure many feel like me, blessed to have had AHP believe in our abilities and thankful she afforded us a stage on which to shine. The world owes a debt of gratitude to RBG for all she did to advance equality for women, and we owe AHP a debt of gratitude for doing the same, albeit down in the N.H. weeds. But then again, as we all know, in the weeds is just the way Ann liked it.

 

– From your Lamprey family, thank you, Ann. You were one of the greats.

 

In lieu of flowers, Ann’s wishes were to have folks make donations to continue her fight for our mission. Donate now.  


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