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Franklin Community Health Network taps Western Maine Health leader as interim CEO

Timothy Churchill takes over for Rebecca Arsenault, who is retiring Feb. 29

February 5, 2016

Timothy A. Churchill

The Board of Directors of Franklin Community Health Network (FCHN) in Farmington has named the current president and CEO of Western Maine Health in Norway, Timothy A. Churchill, as FCHN’s interim leader following the retirement of Rebecca Arsenault later this month.

Churchill will serve as CEO of both organizations until a permanent replacement for Arsenault is found. Both Western Maine Health and FCHN are members of MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care provider.

“In Tim we get a seasoned health care executive who knows firsthand the challenges that small, rural hospitals face,” said Clint Boothby, chair of the FCHN Board. “We also get someone who has led his organization for all 15 years that it has been a member of MaineHealth. That will set us up nicely as we start on the path of creating our own strategic vision in the wake of our joining MaineHealth in October of 2014.”

Indeed, it was the prospect of crafting and implementing a new long-term vision for FCHN, a process that is expected to take several years, that led Arsenault last month to announce her retirement effective Feb. 29. Arsenault said that she had planned to retire before that strategic process could be completed, and it made little sense for her to start on that work only to have her personal priorities interrupt it halfway through.

Churchill has been the president and CEO of Western Maine Health and its flagship, Stephens Memorial Hospital, since 1996. Prior to that, he held various executive posts in the health care industry dating back to the 1980s. His first leadership role was as CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Philadelphia in the early 1990s. He has also served as president of the Osteopathic Medical Center of Philadelphia and president of Windber Medical Center in Windber, Penn. Born in Lewiston and raised in Waterville, he holds an MBA from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree from King’s College in Pennsylvania.

Boothby said the FCHN board was impressed with what Churchill has accomplished at Western Maine Health. Stephens Memorial has been named a top rural hospital three times by The Leapfrog Group, a nationally recognized nonprofit that tracks hospital quality. He added that Churchill’s reputation as a strong financial leader who connects well with the community, physicians and hospital staff should prove to be assets over the short-term for FCHN.

While his schedule will depend on the situation week to week, Churchill said his general plan is to spend two days a week on campus at FCHN. His official start date is March 1, but he expects to spend some time at FCHN prior to that date. He said his priorities would be tackling the challenges common to rural hospitals in Maine: Recruiting good staff—including physicians—as well as serving a population that includes many people of modest means and many elderly patients, all while maintaining the overall fiscal health of the organization.

Churchill said the dual role will also give him an opportunity, working closely with the two organizations’ boards, to explore further areas of cooperation between Western Maine Health and FCHN. Already as MaineHealth members, the two organizations work together on operational functions such as purchasing.

“While it is important that each organization maintain an identity in its home community, it will be interesting to see what kind of synergies may exist,” said Churchill.

Boothby expects the process of selecting a new leader for FCHN to take about six to nine months. “This interim solution gives us the luxury of being able to take the time we need to find the next great leader of FCHN,” he said.

Bill Caron, President of MaineHealth, said Churchill is regarded as one of the strongest leaders in the MaineHealth system, known for fostering a positive and engaged culture among employees as well as operational excellence.

“Franklin Community Health Network is in good hands,” said Caron.

 

 

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