Haverhill’s Hatem-Roy Takes the Reins at Elder Services

Joan Hatem Roy, chief executive officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, during a WHAV Open Mic Show appearance. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Joan Hatem-Roy of Haverhill is the new chief executive officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, replacing Rosanne DiStefano who retired.

Hatem-Roy, who has worked for the Lawrence-based agency since 1983, appeared on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night to discuss her new position and the agency’s evolving role since opening in 1974.

“Our name is a little bit of a misnomer because we’re not just about elders and not just about the Merrimack Valley anymore. We have grown over the years,” she said. Some of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley’s programs serve people 18 years old and up and its territory covers a large swath of the region from Dunstable to Plum Island, but some programs are statewide and national, she explained.

The private, nonprofit organization employs 300 people and works with a budget of $60 million. Its primary job is to find solutions to obstacles that keep older people from staying safely in their homes. Home care services may involve placing homemakers, handling grocery shopping and arranging for transportation.

“We are very excited about Joan’s appointment to this new leadership position. Her 35 years of clinical expertise and program development skills have helped Elder Services build a 42- year stellar reputation as the northeast’s regional leader in elder care.” Said Roseann Robillard, board president.

In 1983, Hatem-Roy became the first protective service worker in Massachusetts, responding to matters of elder abuse. In that job, she began assembling a comprehensive Crisis Intervention Team that included staff experienced in mental health counseling, money management and specialized skills related to suicide prevention and hoarding. Today, Elder Services fields 260 elder abuse cases monthly, she said. To report To report suspected elder abuse, residents may call 800-922-2275 to reach the statewide, 24-hour hotline.

She was promoted to director of Home Care in 1985 and led the process for a major organizational change that focused on interdisciplinary casework between nurses and social workers.

Hatem-Roy is also credited with establishing the agency’s social work licensure program that has supported over 600 individuals in receiving and maintaining their social work license.

Since 2010, she has served as assistant director with a focus on health care programs. She helped develop the nationally renowned center of excellence that provides workshops to help manage chronic health needs for thousands of Massachusetts residents.

She earned her master’s in social work from University of Connecticut and bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from University of Lowell. Hatem-Roy has also served as a professor at both Cambridge College and Northern Essex Community College.

She lives in Haverhill with her husband and two children.