New Hampshire HCA hospital interim CEO says he wasn't blindsided by physician exodus

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Matt Larkin, interim CEO of Rochester, N.H.-based Frisbie Memorial Hospital, is focused on rebuilding practices after an exodus of 12 of 14 primary care physicians. Here, he discusses with Becker's what it has been like leading the 112-bed facility, the circumstances surrounding the physician departures and his strategy for the future. 

Mr. Larkin, who previously was COO of HCA's Portsmouth (N.H.) Regional Hospital, became interim CEO of Frisbie at the beginning of June, after Jeff Scionti retired.

"It's been great. I think I've learned a lot, and I think we had a great foundation set by Jeff Scionti, the previous CEO, and I was able to come in, hit the ground running and be able to continue on with the great work," said Mr. Larkin. "I fit right into the great culture and town. It's been a very welcoming community and a great transition." 

On July 15, Foster's Daily Democrat reported the physician departures, about a year and a half after Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare completed its acquisition of the hospital in March 2020. Physicians who have left practices cited various reasons for leaving, with the hospital's acquisition by HCA and contract issues among the contributing factors. 

But Mr. Larkin told Becker's the exodus was among the topics in talking with others about the future, and he "didn't get blindsided" when he took over at the hospital. 

"I knew coming in we were going to continue to recruit and rebuild those practices, and we're excited about that," he said.

He said the hospital's strategy has been and continues to be having vibrant practices and continuing to expand services.

He pointed to HCA's investment of more than $25 million in the hospital and practices, including a new MRI machine and investing in women's health and mammography. 

"I see that firsthand going on — which others might not — so I can speak more intimately to it. And that, for me, is the growth plan for us to continue to provide the services for the city and the surrounding communities. We continue to do that and plan to do that for a very long time," said Mr. Larkin. 

Regarding recruitment of primary care providers, there are three offers out, and two providers have already accepted, he said. Mr. Larkin said he views this as a sign Frisbie is headed in the right direction.

"We've been honest with the team about what our strategy has been," he said. "Staff here have been great, welcomed me with open arms and are listening and really are taking in our strategy and are seeing those investments locally here when they walk in every day. I think that helps them understand that strategy is going forward."

 

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