ROCHESTER — Matt Larkin is facing a significant challenge as he takes the helm as interim chief executive officer at Frisbie Memorial Hospital.
He is immediately faced with an exodus of primary care doctors with 12 of 14 on staff having left or in the process of leaving practices affiliated with Frisbie, which was acquired in 2020 by HCA Healthcare.
‘Yes, this has happened and we are working to assure we can support the hospital with local coverage while we are actively recruiting new staff,” Larkin said. “It is not a RIF (reduction in force). Sometimes when an organization changes administration, we can see attrition. Those physicians who left are fantastic, and we hope as we reorganize some may come back. Some of them are staying local and some may be leaving the area.”
Frisbie Memorial Hospital, in becoming part of HCA Healthcare, transitioned from a community nonprofit hospital to part of a for-profit company that operates hospitals across the United States and in the United Kingdom. In New Hampshire, HCA also operates Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Parkland Medical Center in Derry.
Larkin said Frisbie’s goal, as it rebuilds practices, is that some of the physicians leaving will take a look at what they are doing and want to return. He said five to six practices are affected by the departures of physicians. He said Frisbie is looking to help with any patients who might be concerned with having coverage.
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“We have nine recruits in the pipeline right now,” Larkin said. “Beyond primary care, we are recruiting for other departments like OB/GYN, hematology and oncology. HCA made no direct changes to account for the attrition. It seems a perfect storm of events that just happened. We have a really positive feel for our emergency and other services, and we want people to know we are here to handle any situation.”
Getting to know Frisbie’s new CEO
Larkin said he is excited about the direction Frisbie is heading and he is happy to help the hospital, now under the auspices HCA, get there. Larkin comes to Frisbie from Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where he was the chief operating officer.
Larkin was previously employed at Tufts Medical Center. At Portsmouth, he said, he worked closely with service lines and the operations of clinical services.
He said he was “asked to support the transition” at Frisbie after CEO Jeff Scionti retired.
“He did great work, and I felt it was my job to continue that,” Larkin said. “During the pandemic, we at Frisbie, Parkland Medical Center and Portsmouth Regional worked closely together to keep the lines of communication open and make things run more smoothly for all the locations. This was a natural progression.”
Plans for Frisbie’s future
Larkin said he sees a lot of great things happening at Frisbie with a number of new initiatives.
“HCA is making investments to help our growth,” he said. “We are a smaller hospital so there is a family feel here that I am really enjoying.”
Larkin said the coming HCA investments fall into two buckets.
“The first which people do not see right away are infrastructure improvements,” said Larkin “We are investing $10 million in things like rooms, boiler systems, the pharmacy. These are what I’d call the bones of the place and this work will be ongoing.”
The clinical side of the hospital is seeing anther $10 million investment, Larkin said. That work will include a “big emergency room renovation,” new MRI equipment, and a new women’s imaging center, he said.
“We will have a new, improved entryway for better flow,” he said of the ER renovation. “We are including in that renovation a separate section for behavioral health patients, enabling a more private area to meet the needs of both adolescents and adults. It is the right step forward, meeting those needs in a better environment.”
As an HCA hospital, Larkin said, Frisbie has additional resources it didn’t have operating on its own.
“Our stroke care, quick response abilities will only improve the response times we can offer,” he said. “Frisbie has always had a unique EMS/911 service and they work well with the emergency department. We will continue to support that work.”