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Leadership team

  • The Executive Leadership Team sets strategies, monitors performance and oversees operational responsibilities throughout Allina Health.

    Penny Ann Wheeler photo

    Penny Wheeler

    President and chief executive officer

    Penny Wheeler, MD, is the president and chief executive officer of Allina Health. Prior to her appointment as CEO, she served as the chief clinical officer of Allina Health, responsible for leading the organization's quality and value agenda through alignment of the clinical and operational leadership to optimally benefit those served by Allina Health. A board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Wheeler served patients at Women's Health Consultants in Minneapolis, was the president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital's medical staff, chaired the Allina Health Quality Committee and served on the Allina Health Board of Directors.

    In addition to her current role, Dr. Wheeler chairs the Minnesota Community Measurement board, a regional health quality collaborative, and is on the board of Portico Healthnet, an organization dedicated to helping uninsured Minnesotans receive affordable health coverage and care. She has presented nationally on Allina Health’s approach and success in quality advancement and outcomes-based quality payment models. Dr. Wheeler was named the 2012 Outstanding Health Care Executive, largely based on her ability to form internal and external care collaboratives and their impact on community health.

    Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate of medicine degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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    Duncan Gallagher

    Executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief financial officer

    Duncan Gallagher is responsible for ensuring that Allina Health resources are deployed properly to enhance the quality, safety and effectiveness of the care Allina Health provides to our patients and communities.

    Prior to joining Allina Health in 2009, Gallagher was the executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer of Iowa Health System based in Des Moines, Iowa. Gallagher spent 10 years in that role overseeing all of the finance functions as well as administrative functions, including legal services, human resources, information technology, strategy, supply chain management and payer contracting.

    Prior to his time at Iowa Health System, Gallagher was a partner with KPMG Peat Marwick based in Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas. He spent 10 years with KPMG leading client engagements with large hospital systems. Prior to his time with KPMG he was a director of finance at Health East Care System in the late '80s and was a senior auditor with Peat Marwick Mitchell and Company in the early to mid '80s.

    Gallagher received his master's degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota in 1989. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota in 1983.

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    Christine (Chris) Bent

    Executive vice president, Allina Health Group

    Christine Bent leads the Allina Health Group, responsible for integrating primary care, specialty care and clinical service line capabilities to better serve our patients.

    Earlier in her career, Bent was the chief operating officer of the Minneapolis Heart Institute® where, in conjunction with the physician president, she provided professional management to the 128-bed Heart Hospital within Abbott Northwestern Hospital and MHI®’s extensive outreach program. Her background is in physician practice management in both independent practices and integrated health care delivery systems.

    Bent graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and obtained her master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Minnesota.

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    Daniel McGinty

    Executive vice president, hospital and specialty services

    Daniel McGinty oversees the operations of the 13 Allina Health hospitals and also has responsibility for specialty services, including Allina Health Emergency Medical Services and Allina Health Pharmacy.

    McGinty joined Allina Health after 13 years at Duluth-based Essentia Health where he worked in various capacities. While at Essentia, he oversaw seven acute care hospitals, four long-term care facilities and 11 physician clinics. Most recently, he served as the chief administrative officer of Essentia’s East Region, responsible for seven hospitals, 18 clinics and a 475-physician multi-specialty clinic.

    Prior to his time at Essentia, McGinty was the president and CEO of Holy Family Memorial Health Network in Manitowoc, Wis.

    McGinty has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Gustavus Adolphus College and a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Minnesota.

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    Robert Wieland

    Executive vice president, Network/Integration Division

    Robert Wieland, MD, leads the Network/Integration Division, overseeing the Allina Integrated Medical Network and Strategy and Business Development, Home Care Services, care management, marketing and communications and technology integration strategies.

    Prior to this role, Wieland served as the executive vice president of the Clinic and Community Division, providing oversight of 56 clinic sites and 863 physicians and advanced care practitioners. Earlier in his career, Wieland served as vice president of medical affairs at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. He also co-founded the Hospitalist Service at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and practiced as a hospitalist there for 12 years before turning his focus to health care leadership.

    Wieland earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, his medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed internal medicine training at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. He serves on the finance committee of the Allina Health Board of Directors, as well as the Advocate Physician Partners Board. 

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    Ben Bache-Wiig

    Senior vice president, West Region and president, Abbott Northwestern Hospital

    Ben Bache-Wiig, MD, is senior vice president – West Region, which includes Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Abbott Northwestern - WestHealth, District One Hospital and New Ulm Medical Center. He is also the president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Prior to that, he served as vice president of Medical Affairs at Abbott Northwestern Hospital from 2009 to 2011.

    Dr. Bache-Wiig was part of the North Clinic for 20 years as medical director, physician president and partner.  He served as the clinic’s lead physician on a project to improve preventative services and helped to develop three significant community-based health initiatives, including a coronary heart disease prevention project, a diabetes prevention project and a nurse-based anti-coagulation clinic.  Dr. Bache-Wiig also developed and led educational workshops for diabetes patients to learn about diabetes care and share information and experiences in managing diabetes. He served as the chief of the Medicine Department at North Memorial Healthcare, on the board of directors for North Memorial and, for 10 years, on the Medica Board of Directors.  

    Dr. Bache-Wiig has been recognized several times by Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine as one of the area’s top physicians.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, went to medical school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis.

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    Sara Criger

    Senior vice president, North Region and president, Mercy Hospital

    Sara Criger is senior vice president – North Region, which includes Buffalo Hospital, Cambridge Medical Center, Mercy Hospital and Unity Hospital. She is also the president of Mercy Hospital.

    Prior to joining Allina Health in 2012, held the position of vice president, HealthEast Care System and CEO, St. Joseph's Hospital, a 258-bed tertiary hospital. Criger also led HealthEast system responsibilities for cardiovascular, neurosciences and mental health service lines, as well as the HealthEast Medical Laboratories and HealthEast Hospice Care. She also served as vice president of ambulatory services, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, and president of Fairview Ridges Hospital and Clinics.

    An active member of the community, Criger currently serves on the Minnesota Hospital Association Executive Committee and the Board of Directors, the Life Source Organ and Tissue Donation Board of Directors, the Minnesota National Guard Strategic Advisory Task Force, and is chair of the Life Source Finance Committee. Previously, she served as the 2012 chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Board, and as a member of the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board, Minnesota Hospital Association Policy and Advocacy Committee, and the Twin Cities American Heart and Stroke Association Board.

    Criger holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Connecticut State University and a master's degree in health services administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois. 

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    Thomas O'Connor

    Senior vice president, East Region and president, United Hospital

    Tom O'Connor is senior vice president – East Region, which includes Allina Health Emergency Medical Services, Regina Hospital, River Falls Area Hospital and United Hospital. He is also the president of United Hospital.

    O'Connor began his career with Allina Health in 1997, with responsibility for eight rural hospitals as vice president of operations for Allina Regional Health Services.  In 2001, as corporate vice president of operations for Allina Health, he led the year-long administrative redesign and system wide financial improvement initiative necessitated by the Allina Health split with Medica Health Plan. He then served as president of St. Francis Regional Medical Center until 2007, when he began a five-year term as president of Mercy Hospital. Prior to his career at Allina Health, O’Connor served as chief operating officer of HCA Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee.

    O'Connor has master's degrees in health services administration and in business administration from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor's degree in economics/finance from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. 

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    Elizabeth Truesdell Smith, JD, MPH

    Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary to the Allina Health Board of Directors

    Elizabeth Truesdell Smith is senior vice president, general counsel and secretary to the Allina Health Board of Directors.  Truesdell Smith has been practicing law for 22 years and has served as in-house counsel for Allina Health since December 2000.   As general counsel, Truesdell Smith serves on the Executive Leadership Team and is the chief legal advisor to the health system and all of its operating units, subsidiaries, employees, boards and constituents.  She also is the senior executive responsible for clinical and enterprise risk management, insurance and emergency preparedness.  

    Prior to her appointment as general counsel, she held the position of vice president of the Allina Health Law Department medical-legal team where she focused her leadership and practice on the oversight and management of professional liability matters, patient care related advice and counsel, medical staff and privileging matters, corporate and clinical regulatory matters, clinical risk management and litigation arising out of patient care delivery disputes.  Before joining Allina Health, Truesdell Smith practiced as a trial lawyer for eight years with a focus on hospital and health law, medical professional liability and medical products liability litigation defense.

    Truesdell Smith received her juris doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1992 after earning a master’s degree in public health with a health law and bioethics concentration from Boston University School of Public Health in 1989. She has served on institutional review boards responsible for overseeing human subjects research for over a decade. She has worked in biomedical laboratory research at Harvard Medical School and in biomedical ethics at Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Public Health and the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. She currently serves on the YWCA Board of Directors.


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