New L+M president says hospital is 'only going to get better'
New London — In his first month as president and chief executive officer of Lawrence + Memorial Healthcare, Patrick L. Green has been able to announce two major new initiatives and significant progress toward restoring L+M’s financial health.
Credit for those achievements, he said, goes to the affiliation of L+M with the larger Yale New Haven Health network, approved 10 months ago. But the timing of the announcements within his first weeks as L+M’s new leader, he said, sets a tone he intends to maintain.
“I didn’t come here to not grow and build,” Green, 43, who began his new position June 5, said during an interview Monday. “We’re only going to get better.”
Green’s salary will not be disclosed by Yale New Haven until it is included in future federal financial filings, according to L+M spokesman Mike O’Farrell. Green’s predecessor, Bruce Cummings, received an annual salary of $761,873 before his retirement after 11 years.
Green, whose previous post was at a St. Anthony Hospital in Colorado, now lives with his wife, LaNece, and their 10-year-old son, Peyton, in Stonington, taking morning runs three to four times a week as he plans to continue his habit of completing two half marathons per year. His new residence is strategically situated halfway between the L+M Hospital and Westerly Hospital, the two main parts of L+M Healthcare, which also includes the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, the Pequot Health Center in Groton and the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Waterford.
While St. Anthony Hospital is a similar size to L+M Hospital, he said, it is part of a much larger network of 17 hospitals, compared to the six in the Yale New Haven network. St. Anthony is not part of an academic medical center as L+M now is with Yale.
“Being part of an academic medical center, you’re getting access to the best and the brightest,” said Green, who also holds the title of executive vice president of Yale New Haven Health. “We want to leverage the efficiencies and clinical capabilities of the larger system, but Yale New Haven is not coming to completely change the culture of L+M. The community of New London has specific needs that are different from the rest of the network.”
But joining the larger system has brought positive changes to L+M, he believes, among them the addition of 40 new jobs in the financial services office for its affiliated physicians, plus a $50,000 investment in public health projects in two neighborhoods in New London, both announced in late June.
In addition, a $26 million gap in expenses over revenues in the last fiscal year has shrunk thanks to system-wide efficiencies. Now, the current fiscal year is projected to close with a $9 million gap. Green shared the financial progress at a community forum last week.
His priority, he said, is to engage physicians, nurses and other L+M staff in monthly coffee hours and daily “walk-arounds” of hospital units. He wants to be a visible leader with an open-door policy, ready to listen to concerns and suggestions in one-on-one encounters. In particular, he said, L+M will reach out to physicians who recently left L+M to encourage them to return, and actively recruit new neurosurgeons, oncologists and primary care doctors.
“We have to restore confidence in our physicians that they will be supported,” he said.
After two decades in the health care field, Green said he believes in a collaborative management style. Instead of the top-down approach of viewing L+M staff as employees who work for him, “I prefer to refer to them as associates. We can’t run this hospital without our physicians, nurses and other staff as partners,” he said.
One of the aspects of L+M he finds most impressive, he said, is the longevity and loyalty of many of the staff he has met thus far. That includes those whose mothers or fathers worked there before them, or whose children and grandchildren were born there.
L+M, he said, can keep its unique traditions and culture, even as it becomes further integrated into the Yale New Haven system. In one tangible manifestation of that transition, new signs reading “Yale New Haven Health Lawrence + Memorial Hospital” have replaced the old L+M signs throughout the system. About 95 percent of new signs are up throughout the system, except at Westerly Hospital, which will get its new signs in the coming weeks, according to O’Farrell.
Green said believes he is coming to L+M at a particularly positive time in its 105-year history, when a new infusion of resources and expertise from Yale New Haven will help make a strong local institution even stronger.
“We have an opportunity to wrap our arms around this community in a way we haven’t done before,” he said.
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