The Central Peninsula General Hospital administrator instrumental in designing the hospital's portion of the new Kenai Health Center resigned Friday to pursue new opportunities.
"I'm working on a couple of projects. I think it's a good time to be looking at new things," said Martin Richman, outgoing hospital chief executive.
"I've been asked not to talk about them, and I'm kind of a private guy. I certainly like the community. I've made friends here -- hospital employees, doctors, the administration. They're just a super-hard-working group I'm going to admire forever."
CPGH Inc., the nonprofit corporation that runs the Kenai Peninsula Borough-owned hospital in Soldotna, announced Richman's resignation Friday, effective immediately.
"I think it's a little sudden. Obviously, I had spoken to the board before that, and they have a very fine person coming as interim administrator," Richman said.
Diana Zirul, president of the CPGH Inc. board, said the interim administrator will be Jay Seigfreid, an employee of the hospital's consultant, Quorum Health Resources.
"As an employee of Quorum, Jay has assisted Marty and the board in the development of our strategic plan, and therefore is very familiar with the issues we are facing," she said.
Mike Gutsch will continue as the hospital's chief financial officer, she said. Quorum will begin searching for a chief executive to take over from Seigfreid.
"That's part of our contract with them, is if we're losing a CEO or we're without a CEO, they'll assist us," Zirul said.
The position will be advertised locally, nationally and through Quorum, she said, and finding a new chief executive likely will take three to six months.
Zirul said Richman wanted to pursue new professional opportunities.
"He and the board felt that this is a good time for us to pursue getting a new administrator so he can do what he wants to do," she said.
"Two weeks ago, the board approved our new strategic plan. The next few months are going to be quite critical as we move forward and try to prepare the master facilities plan."
The strategic plan outlines the board's vision for the hospital. From that, CPGH Inc. will work with Quorum to develop a business plan outlining what services to provide and a master facilities plan outlining what buildings and facilities will be needed to deliver those services.
Challenges facing the hospital include the growing central Kenai Peninsula population, the growing fraction comprised by senior citizens and a dramatic rise in the use of out-patient services.
While the hospital was designed as an in-patient facility, it now derives more than half its revenue from out-patient services such as physical therapy, radiology and laboratory tests.
The hospital already is opening satellites to offer out-patient services in outlying communities. Zirul said Richman was instrumental in designing the hospital's portion of the new Kenai Health Center, which will save Kenai and Nikiski residents the drive to Soldotna for many lab and X-ray services after it opens this summer.
Last winter, Richman said he hoped the clinic would lead more women to have mammograms, X-rays that can detect breast cancer early. Kenai women are only 80 percent as likely to have mammograms as Soldotna women, he said.
"I think it may be a convenience issue," he said.
Zirul said Richman also played a role in opening the satellite physical therapy clinic in Kenai and the residential drug and alcohol treatment center on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
"Each of these programs have long been identified as necessary services for the community and demonstrate Marty's willingness to challenge the status quo," she said. "The board appreciates his hard work and dedication to the community, as well as the contributions that Marty has made during his tenure at CPGH."
Ken Meacham, a member of the CPGH Inc. board, said Richman contributed to technological upgrades, such as improvements to the surgical department and the hospital's acquisition in 1999 of a $1.38-million magnetic resonance imaging machine.
"I think Marty has done a good job," he said. "He's a thoughtful person. (A proposal) gets presented. He thinks about it. He makes careful decisions."
Richman said he is not sure if he will stay in Soldotna.
"Time will tell. Things are being worked out. I'm looking at a couple different things," he said. "I certainly would like to stay in the community, but you never know where life takes you."
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