By MARIA HEETER, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The Executive Council held a public hearing Wednesday on Lori Shibinette of Northfield who was nominated by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to serve as Health and Human Services Commissioner.
The Executive Council will vote to approve or reject Shibinette at its regular meeting on Jan. 22.
Shibinette is currently serving as the chief executive officer of New Hampshire Hospital, and previously served as a deputy commissioner at the Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to her state service, Shibinette served as CEO of the Merrimack County Nursing Home and as its director of clinical services.
Councilor Mike Cryans, D-Hanover, said he doesn’t usually broadcast his vote ahead of time, but he will be voting to confirm, noting that about 20 people spoke in her favor Wednesday and two against. He’s known Shibinette for many years, Cryans said.
“She’s a very capable person,” Cryans said. “She’ll do just fine.”
State Representatives Jim MacKay, D-Concord, and Ken Snow, D-Manchester, both endorsed Shibinette.
Rep. Snow said his experience with Shibinette has been “quite positive,” and that he sees her “as a kind of person who will really move the department in the right direction.”
President of the New Hampshire Hospital Association Steve Ahnen, and president and chief operating officer of Catholic Medical Center Alex Walker, also both endorsed Shibinette.
Two women voiced concerns about Shibinette, urging the council to reject her nomination.
Mary Carrigan of Manchester said that during Shibinette’s time as deputy commissioner, she failed to effectively oversee the New Hampshire child protection system, asserting that educational hiring standards for caseworkers are too low.
“This is not a personal attack on Ms. Shibinette or CPS workers in general,” Carrigan said. “But they are both ill-prepared to do the job they are being entrusted to do.”
Anna Rose Carrigan of Farmington is a DHHS employee for the Division of Public Health and founder and director of The New Road Project, a nonprofit that seeks to improve child protection in New Hampshire.
She echoed Anna Rose’s sentiments, acknowledging that Shibinette’s “resume is impressive,” but urged the executive council members to reject the nomination.