Grogan leaving Alta Vista

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By Tom McDonald

Alta Vista Regional Hospital CEO Richard Grogan is leaving after nearly three years on the job.

He has accepted another position in the greater Philadelphia area, according to a hospital news release.

Grogan, who replaced Brian Gibbons as the hospital’s top administrator in January 2008, will start at his new job on Sept. 27.

Maridel Acosta, associate CEO at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell, has been named interim CEO for Alta Vista Regional Hospital. She is scheduled to arrive at Alta Vista next week, the release stated.

Acosta has a 15-year health-care background that includes clinical, management and hospital administrative experience. She has been associate CEO in Roswell since June 2008.

“I have mixed emotions about leaving,” Grogan said in the statement. “However, this move brings my wife and I closer to family, including our grandchildren.”

He cited the Community Cares Initiative and the addition of new physicians, including a urologist, second general surgeon and three primary care physicians, as accomplishments under his administration. “And we’re well on our way to having an updated CT scanner in our radiology department with modern imaging technology,” he added.

The announcement came just a day after Grogan’s second trip to a San Miguel County Commission meeting to defend the hospital’s position regarding a pro-union vote and the hospital's refusal to accept the vote as legal. Alta Vista employees voted in the union about a year before Grogan took the reins as CEO, but the hospital’s parent company, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, has fought the decision legally ever since. (See related story, this page.)

Using the county’s indigent care payments as leverage, Commissioner Nick Leger has demanded Grogan’s presence repeatedly to explain the hospital position against the unionization effort.

When Grogan, who had previously worked for Alta Vista as the head of nursing, was named as Gibbons’ replacement, the move was praised as a good choice even by some pro-union Las Vegas citizens.

Such praise continues, but from other citizens with ties to Alta Vista.

Business owner Wayne Sonchar, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Trustees, had only praise for Grogan.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Sonchar said in a statement. “Under Richard’s leadership, we’ve made great strides in building solid relationships with the medical staff, employees and the community, and positioning the hospital for future success.

“We’re sorry to see him go, but wish him well as he takes on new challenges.”

The search for a new CEO is under way. Board members and medical staff leaders will be involved in the selection, according to the hospital’s new release.