New hospital CEO’s biggest goal: listen

May 27, 2015

Danville Register & Bee

BY VICKY M. CRUZ 
vmorrison@registerbee.com 
(434) 791-7981 godanriver.com

When Alan Larson assumes the position of Danville Regional Medical Center CEO on Aug. 1, he will draw on his leadership experience and small town familiarity.

“I’ve been in rural communities before. I think I understand the challenge of meeting the expectations of the community and giving them confidence to stay in the community rather than leaving to seek health care elsewhere,” Larson said.

Larson has worked in health care systems in Statesville, North Carolina, and Roseburg, Oregon, but most recently was working in Philadelphia. In addition, he has worked in health care in critical access communities. Both large and small types of locations were improved under his lead.

“I’ve had some good experience in employee relations,” he started, adding quality of care improvement, reduction of patient turn around and overall improvement of a hectic emergency department, from outcomes to success.

In the application process Larson picked up that the local hospital had gone through many changes in recent years as well as numerous improvements. He commented how impressed he was with the in-depth information he learned and the warm welcome he received from city political leaders, economic development staff and local organizations.

The teamwork approach to solving Danville’s issues was a plus for him. The more people involved, the better the outcome. The existing community partnerships are a solid foundation for continuing the hospital’s improvements.

“One person by themselves will not be very successful in a long term solution,” Larson observed. “I’m excited to be a part of that team to help the community grow and succeed.”

Larson holds entrepreneurial experience in addition to his many positions as CEO or president of health care systems or individual hospitals. He started TD HealthCare, where he is most recently employed, that provides consulting services to hospitals and health systems.

TD HealthCare got Larson into product market research, long-term care research, operations improvement and interim leadership work, among other areas. He founded that company following his role as CEO of the Mercy Fitzgerald Community Health Systems.

“I just really enjoyed the opportunity to work with different organizations. It gave me a unique opportunity to see health care systems at a broader perspective,” he said.

His second start-up was created with seven other founders: Arcon Healthcare. Established in the 1990s as federal government budget reallocations were causing hospital closings and other challenges, the company helped provide health care to communities lacking major care centers.

“Our model allowed us to provide what we would call more urgent care,” he explained.

Unfortunately, Larson believes the company started ahead of its time. Most of the communities were very supportive of having the new service but insurance companies were hesitant to get on board. The three to five year venture eventually disbanded but not without lessons learned.

“It’s always good to learn from your mistakes,” he said.

Larson enters the DRMC position aware of the many ups and downs and challenges that have been encountered by many communities. He plans to sustain the commitment to the community in general while expanding access to care.

“My biggest goal is to listen,” he said, hoping to get feedback and suggestions from a broader population on how to acquire more of the right resources and remove barriers to health care.

Returning to Virginia almost 30 years after earning his master’s degree from the Medical College of Virginia, Larson feels ready for the new challenge. Though a house hasn’t been selected for him and his wife, Kami, and their two teenage sons, Larson is excited to jump on the mountain bike trail or go mountain hiking. The couple has three other children who are married.

“I have confidence that my previous leadership experience will help me to be successful here. I’m excited for the opportunity to find ways that make sense for Martinsville and Danville to work together. Those two communities don’t often sync collaboratively in many regards. From a health care perspective there are other things that can collaborate together,” he said.