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Rep. Keenan resigns

By Michelle Symington

MetroWest Reminder Assistant Editor

In a move that he said came about "very quickly," State Representative Daniel Keenan (D-Southwick) announced last week that he will resign to take a position as the vice president of government relations at the Sisters of Providence Health System.

Keenan said he was not looking for a new position and has been enjoying his job and career as a legislator. He is the representative in the 3rd Hampden District, which serves Agawam, Southwick, Granville and Russell.

"I am in my 12th year on the Legislature and it is still very exciting and interesting," he said.

He explained that he had a chance meeting with officials from the Sisters of Providence Health System during which he had a general conversation and then further discussions about the position.

"It made me realize the opportunity to continue to service people in western Mass. in a different capacity," he said. "It will be very rewarding as well."

Keenan has spent many years dealing with healthcare issues as a legislator. He has served as the co-chair of the State Budget Task Force on Hospitals and chair of the Budget Task Force on Medicaid. He also served on the Health Care Finance, Medicaid, and Insurance Ways and Means, and Taxation Committees.

"I realize what an integral part of the state healthcare is from the personal perspective and economic [perspective]," Keenan said. "I think I can make a difference in the Sisters of Providence Health System and make a difference to the people in western Mass."

Keenan said that he will miss the people the most when he resigns as a legislator "both the residents and citizens and all the friends I've made."

He added he will also miss all of the people he has come in contact with, including his colleagues in both the House and the Senate.

He said that his colleagues took the news of his resignation as a surprise.

"I don't think anyone expected it," he said. "I am one of those people [who did not expect it]."

If someone asked him a month ago if he thought he would resign, Keenan said he would have told them that he never would expect to.

"There has been some sadness among some people I work with and among people in Agawam, Feeding Hills and Southwick," he said. "Myself, there is a certain sadness in me. It is a job I love. One of the most rewarding things I have done in my life is serve as a state representative."

Keenan said he is thankful for the opportunity he had to serve the people in the 3rd Hampden District.

"It was a job I took very seriously and I tried to live up to the expectations that the people who elected me had in me," he said.

He added that he was proud that he was able to represent in Boston the values of the people of his district.

Keenan said he does not know the exact date of his departure from the Legislature, but said it will probably be sometime in February.

Although he will miss his job as a state representative, Keenan said he is looking forward to having an impact on the lives of people in western Massachusetts.

"I love the area," he said. "I grew up in Southwick ... and I want it to thrive. I hope I can improve the quality of life through my work at the Sisters of Providence."

As the vice president of government relations, Keenan said he will be working with people on the local, state and federal government levels on issues relating to the Sisters of Providence Health System, which operates Mercy Medical Center, Providence Hospital, Brightside, several nursing homes, and home care delivery systems.

"It is a multi-faceted healthcare organization with many dealings with government on all levels," he said.

In addition to bringing his experience as a legislator, Keenan said he will bring his law background to the position as well as his experience with finance issues from his time as a state representative.

Vincent McCorkle, president and CEO of the Sisters of Providence Health System, said, "We are pleased that Dan Keenan will be joining the Sisters of Providence Health System. Dan has been a trusted and respected public servant for many years in Massachusetts and his many capabilities, experience and talent will help strengthen the mission of our organization. He is also an attorney with an extensive background in health care finance and has a strong working knowledge of issues related to hospital and health system operations."

Brian McNiff, a spokesperson in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office, said that it will be up to the House of Representatives to decide whether or not to hold a special election to replace Keenan, whose term expires Dec. 31.

"Anytime there is a vacancy in the Legislature, the branch of the Legislature adopts an order to call for a special election," McNiff said.

The spokesperson in Speaker of the House Salvatore Dimasi's office did not want to comment about a special election until Keenan's resignation was officially filed.