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New London - After a 10-month period of transition, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital has announced the hiring of a new chief of its Department of Surgery and the expansion of the department with the hiring of two additional surgeons.
Dr. Robert Lincer, who has been a part-time surgeon at L&M for the past 2½ years, will become chief of the department Jan. 1. His previous positions include 17 years as a surgeon and assistant program director at Stamford Hospital followed by a post as surgeon and instructor in the surgical physician assistant training program at Norwalk Hospital.
"I'm interested in being part of the change in health care and introducing innovative ways to deliver services in ways that are cost-effective," said Lincer, who is in his final semester of a master's of business administration in health care program at Yale University. "This is a great hospital and a great opportunity."
Changes he foresees include a greater embrace of new surgical technologies and new models of care. The new position, he said, will give him a chance to immediately apply what he is learning in the master's program about the business side of health care to the L&M department.
L&M has been without a chief surgeon since the departure of Dr. Garth Ballantyne in February. Ballantyne, who headed the department for less than 18 months, left for a position at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.
In a phone interview Monday, Lincer said the L&M department's core staff of general surgeons - Dr. Gregory Azia, Dr. David Reisfeld and Dr. Dean Willis - is being expanded with two additional new surgeons. Dr. Elizabeth Arguelles, hired last year, has been working part-time since spring while on maternity leave, but is now back full-time, and Dr. Christy Stanat will begin as a full-time surgeon on Jan. 2.
Lincer, whose speciality is surgical oncology, will spent half his time doing surgery and half on administrative duties. The 56-year-old North Stamford resident said he plans to relocate to southeastern Connecticut.
One of the responsibilities of his new post will be to determine how L&M should expand with new or enhanced surgical specialities that will keep more patients from southeastern Connecticut in the area for surgical services rather than travel to a larger hospital outside the region.
Along with general surgery, L&M's main surgery offerings include gynecological, bariatric and joint replacement procedures. According to the hospital's annual report for fiscal 2012, 7,324 outpatient surgeries - which outnumber inpatient surgeries - were performed at L&M that year. It did not list the number of inpatient surgeries.
"It's a great time to see what the needs are and talk to the community and see what kinds of services we can bring in," Lincer said. "There is capacity to increase both our inpatient and outpatient surgery services. We're in an expansion phase, and we have an opportunity to offer patients high quality services in an accessible location."