New Bridgton Hospital president named

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Peter Wright understands the important connection between a hospital and the rural communities it serves.

Wright, an experienced hospital administrator from New Hampshire, will be the new President of Bridgton Hospital (a 25-bed critical access hospital) and Rumford Hospital, Central Maine Healthcare announced last week.

Wright joins CMH after serving for six years as president and CEO at Valley Regional Healthcare in Claremont, N.H.  Highly-regarded for his service-oriented leadership and ability to create connections with communities of all sizes, Wright also demonstrates outstanding knowledge and understanding of the unique nature of rural healthcare. His entire career has been spent in northern New England.

“Peter Wright rose to the top of our extensive, nationwide search,” said CMH EVP David Tupponce, MD. “He’s proven highly-successful instilling a strong clinical culture and prioritizes heightened communication, transparency and accountability. He understands the importance of rural hospitals to the communities they serve.”

During his time at Valley Regional Healthcare, which is the only Four-Star critical access hospital in New Hampshire’s upper valley and a strategic partner of the renowned Dartmouth-Hitchcock healthcare system, Wright led two strategic planning processes to prepare the organization for healthcare and payment reform, engineering an operating margin turnaround while elevating empowerment-based decision-making at all levels.

Through Kate Carlisle, CMH’s director of Public Relations and Community Affairs, The News posed the following questions to BH’s new president, who will assume leadership responsibilities in mid-March:

BN. What were the lures to accept the Bridgton Hospital president/CEO position?

Wright: Professionally, I have admired both hospitals for a very long time as high-value healthcare providers. Being part of a regional team allows the local community to have access to the right care, in the right place at the right time. I have spent my career making sure “community” is at the center of how a community hospital operates. I want to make sure patients and families get the care they need in the best setting. I plan to ensure that open, honest, transparent communication and leadership is at the core of how Bridgton Hospital connects and serves the region.

Personally, I have always enjoyed and admired this part of Maine. I love the outdoors and all four seasons. Whether it’s on the mountain snowboarding and snowmobiling in the winter, or playing on the lake and hiking/biking in the summer, I have spent my life appreciating the outdoors. I enjoy visiting local restaurants (I’m a bit of a foodie) and being a part of northern New England life. Our two oldest children (Kayle – 28, married to Nick — 28 and Jonathon – 25) live in Portland and it will be nice to see them and our new granddaughter (Kenley).

BN. What do you see as the major challenges you face and what skill set do you bring to the position to take on those issues?

Wright: It is no secret that there has been some unrest with system leadership in the recent past. One of my top priorities is to ensure there is an ongoing open, honest and transparent dialog to strengthen the connection with all of leadership, not just me. There is also a great need to add providers and services locally and I believe there is a very strong commitment from the Central Maine Healthcare team to make sure patients get as much care as they can, locally.

Part of the reason I was chosen was my work in systems integration in New Hampshire and Vermont with critical access hospitals and larger tertiary centers. It makes no sense at all to have three different teams in the region. It fractures care and the resources are just not available anymore. But that does not mean patients necessarily need to go to Lewiston for all their specialty care. We need to develop a clinical team of medical and surgical specialists to address the demonstrated needs of the region. I believe the Central Maine Healthcare leadership team is committed to providing the right care, in the right place at the right time, every time. This is what CMHC leadership has advised and promised. It is the plan, and what I have been doing for 18 years.

BN. How will you go about assessing Bridgton Hospital as the facility stands right now?

Wright: Health is about people taking care of people. When I visited Bridgton Hospital during my interview, I witnessed a strong team of dedicated and talented professionals. My leadership style is to get to know and understand the people, both as a team and individuals. I want to better understand their talents, hopes and desires and listen to ideas about how we can better serve the community. I would also like to take a moment to recognize the tremendous effort and outstanding leadership that Jill Rollins has provided not only over the past six-plus months, but also her long-term dedication to the region. There is no question that a big part of why I wanted to take this position was to work with Jill and the rest of the Bridgton leadership team.

BN. Understanding the current situation at BH, how will you approach rebuilding services, as well as the community’s trust in the facility?

Wright: There is only one way to rebuild trust. It has to be earned. I plan to earn that trust one experience at a time. And it is more than just healthcare. I want to be a part of the community and enjoy all the things that make it special. I will be judged not by what I say, but what I do and I and look forward to that.

As for services, I have mentioned it is up to me and the rest of the team to build a regional team to make sure local care is the best it can be. There is already a great group of very caring medical staff, clinical and administrative staff who I can clearly see would do anything to help their community. We need to add and expand to that team.

About the BH president

Previously, Wright served as Chief Operating Officer at Littleton (NH) Regional Hospital; Senior Director of Planning, Development, and Medical Group Operations at Copley Health Systems in Morrisville, VT; and Managing Director of the Stowe (VT) Marathon.

Wright earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Lyndon State College, his Master of Science in Administration from St. Michael’s College, and his Master of Health Care Delivery Science from the Tuck School of Business/Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.

He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Hospital Association and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

“For 18 years, I have dedicated my career toward working with communities to add value and improve health in rural areas of northern New England,” Wright said. “I feel strongly that the key part of ‘community hospitals’ is ‘Community.’ We are there to serve, and it is critically important that we are an integral part of every aspect of what happens locally.”

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