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Alta Vista names new leader

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By David Giuliani

Alta Vista Regional Hospital on Monday named a new chief executive officer, nearly three months after its former CEO left suddenly.

Richard Grogan served as Alta Vista’s chief nursing officer and associate CEO from 2003 to 2005. For the past two years, he has been the CEO of Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine, Texas.

He starts at Alta Vista on Jan. 28.

In a related development, the hospital selected Leonard Tapia as chief financial officer. Tapia most recently worked as Carlsbad Medical Center’s CFO and served in that capacity at Alta Vista from 2001 to 2003.

Alta Vista’s top position has been something of a revolving door in recent years. In August 2005, employees were notified of Ben Everett’s resignation, with his leaving the very same day. He had been there less than two years. Brian Gibbons took his place, but in late October, he suddenly resigned as Alta Vista’s CEO, with hospital employees being informed through a memo.

The hospital is run by Community Health Systems, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company.

During the summer, Alta Vista employees voted to be represented by a union, District 1199 of the National Union of Health Care Employees, a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

However, the hospital has tried the fight the results by alleging procedural problems. The matter is pending an appeal in Washington.

Grogan begins with a measure of goodwill in the community. Lorenzo Flores, a member of the Concerned Citizens Committee, which has criticized the hospital before, said his group was pleased with Grogan’s selection.

“We believe that Mr. Grogan can and will reach out to local Alta Vista employees and the community to create a positive atmosphere for good medical care for our community,” Flores said. “We ask that people give Mr. Grogan a chance to help our community and not continue the negative issues that only divide everyone.”

Henry Santana, an organizer with the union, said he hadn’t heard the news yet about Grogan’s selection Monday afternoon, but he said this may be a time for both sides to reach out.

“The workers are willing to sit down with anyone they put in a position to negotiate,” Santana said.

In Alpine, Grogan was credited with strengthening the clinical and operational stability of the hospital, which included a replacement plan to update the imaging technology, increased access to physicians through recruiting of new doctors and expanding emergency room doctor staffing and general surgery to around the clock, an Alta Vista press release states.

He has more than 30 years’ experience and has a master’s degree in health services administration from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill.

“My wife, Nancy, and I are thrilled to be returning to a community and hospital we love,” Grogan said in a statement. “This is a wonderful hospital with an outstanding employee team and medical community.”