By Vanessa Kahin/Roswell Daily Record
Employees at Roswell Regional Hospital were treated all day Thursday in celebration of the hospital’s sale to Lovelace Health System Inc.
The contract making the sale of Roswell Regional Hospital by Lovelace official was signed Thursday, said Frederick French, a gastroenterologist who is one of the original owners of the hospital.
RRH employees were treated to burritos Thursday morning, and an ice cream social with the new owners of the hospital in the afternoon, including Ron Stern, president and CEO of Lovelace Health System.
“We’re here for the long term,” Stern said, inciting applause from hospital employees as they gathered in the hospital cafeteria for a cool, sweet treat.
Stern said RRH employees were welcoming, and were enthused about “the potential to take the hospital forward.
“They worked very hard to develop (Roswell Regional Hospital),” he said. “We look forward to working together.”
Stern said there are about 280 employees at the hospital.
French, who heads the hospital’s Board of Trustees, was present during the ice cream social and spoke briefly to hospital employees.
“This is a great day for Roswell Regional Hospital,” he said. He told the small crowd that he helped select members of the RRH board, including physicians Richard Mooney and James Boss; Pioneer Bank president Jon Hitchcock; and former Roswell mayor Bill Owen.
“(They are) clear-thinking people who have a vision,” French said of the board members, adding that they are “people who have demonstrated their commitment to community development in Roswell.”
French said the hospital and its association with Lovelace might help grow industry in Roswell. As a retirement community, he said better health care could make Roswell more attractive to retirees and this, in turn, could help develop the community.
“It goes hand-in-hand,” he said. “(We) can’t have community development without great health care.”
Owen, who was Roswell mayor from 1998-2006, also said the pairing of RRH with Lovelace will help grow Roswell and improve its scope as a retirement community.
“We’re known as a retirement center,” Owen said of Roswell. With so-called Baby Boomers — members of an extraordinarily large generation — retiring, Owen said it is imperative Roswell be prepared.
“We’re going to get more and more folks coming to our area,” Owen said. “We want them to know (we have) good hospitals.”
The increase and diversity of medical facilities, he said, will be a boon not only for Roswell but also for all of southeast New Mexico.
“People like a choice,” Owen said. “People like competition.”
French said Lovelace will bring the resources needed to increase the number of physicians at RRH — not only primary care doctors, but specialists as well. He said RRH has anywhere from 25 to 30 physicians. There are hopes to add specialists in the fields of urology, gastroenterology and endocrinology.
Both Stern and French said that RRH will change its name. Stern said the hospital’s new name will begin with “Lovelace” but the exact name will be decided in the coming weeks.
Roswell Regional is a 77,000-square foot, 26-bed hospital that first opened its doors in May 2007. Originally owned by 22 doctors, anesthesiologists and midwives, the hospital was almost sold to a subsidiary of Community Health Systems Inc., of which Eastern New Mexico Medical Center is an affiliate — in late 2011. The Federal Trade Commission halted the sale, as it was determined that having both hospitals owned by the same company would be counterproductive to competition.
Source: Roswell Daily Record