Michelle Hood the president and CEO of Northern Light Health speaks at an event in this Oct. 8, 2018, file photo. Credit: Gabor Degre

The leader of Maine’s second largest health care system is leaving her post for a job at a prominent national lobbying organization for hospitals.

Michelle Hood, president and CEO of Northern Light Health, announced Thursday that she has accepted a job as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Hospital Association.

Hood has led Northern Light Health, which until recently was called Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, since 2006. The Brewer-based system includes Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor along with eight other hospitals stretching from Portland to Presque Isle. It is close to taking a 10th hospital under its wing, Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft. Hood has also served on the American Hospital Association’s board of trustees for the last three years.

During her time at the helm, Northern Light Health rebranded itself and acquired two hospitals: Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth in 2015 and Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland in 2013. It also acquired the Bangor-area pharmacy Miller Drug starting in 2010, which became Northern Light Pharmacy last year.

Suzanne Spruce, a Northern Light Health spokesperson, said that a date for Hood’s departure has not been set and that she will begin her job with the national group in 2020. A search committee will be formed to search for a replacement.

Barry McCrum, chair of Northern Light Health’s board, said that he’s sad Hood will be leaving but “proud that the AHA would select our system’s leader for such an important national role.”

In a written statement, Hood said that she is “energized” to begin her next job and “privileged” to have worked with “so many talented and dedicated people” at Northern Light Health.

Hood’s announced departure comes as Northern Light Health continues to search for a new president to replace the former president of EMMC, Donna Russell-Cook, who stepped down last spring. Timothy Dentry, Northern Light Health’s chief operating officer, has been serving as the Bangor hospital’s interim president. Spruce said that the system is close to appointing a new person for that role.