New CMMC president plans to 'do better'

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David Tupponce is the new president of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He started the job Monday, Oct. 2. 

LEWISTON — Central Maine Medical Center has a new president.

David Tupponce, a family doctor-turned-hospital administrator, joined the Lewiston hospital earlier this month. He will serve as president of CMMC and executive vice president of Central Maine Healthcare, CMMC’s parent. 

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“When you speak with someone like Jeff (Brickman, Central Maine Healthcare CEO) about his vision for not only this organization but the community and what he wants to do for health care in Maine, that’s the kind of organization and person you want to work for,” Tupponce said. “I’m excited about it.”

He replaces Tina Legere, who served as president for about three years before  resigning in January.

Tupponce, 49, was raised in Connecticut. Growing up, he said, he was a “science nerd.”

“I just really enjoyed the complexity of human anatomy and how do you fix problems when everyone’s a little bit different,” he said. 

Tupponce went to medical school at George Washington University in Washington D.C., and completed his residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania.

He worked for several years as a primary care doctor. His attention gradually shifted to administration, partly because his wife saw his interest and encouraged him.

“I found myself really looking at how did the office run, how could I be more efficient. Patient access is always a challenge and how could we be more effective on that?” he said. “It just evolved over time into how could I really not dabble in that, but really commit to working within the health care system.”

Tupponce most recently served as CEO for a Tenet Healthcare hospital in Phoenix.

Although he was open to a new opportunity, Tupponce wasn’t actively looking for a new job. A recruiter reached out to him and said Brickman specifically wanted a physician CEO — an unusual request in hospital leadership.

“One of the things that caught my attention was that specificity,” Tupponce said.

He started as CMMC president at the beginning of October. During his first weekend, he biked the 50-mile course in the Dempsey Challenge. 

“It was a great chance to meet members of the community,” he said. “This is an amazing community. I’ve just been really impressed. Having grown up in New England, it was nice to come back and feel that sense of community. It’s like coming home.”

He also enjoyed coming from a large city to a small one.

“It’s easy to see the people you’re working hard for,” he said.

His hope for CMMC: that it will come to exceed the community’s expectations for health care.

“We are looking to do something different in Maine than what Maine has been experiencing,” he said. “We should be a high-value health care provider that provides help in their community. We don’t need everyone to drive to Portland to get high-quality health care. We should be that organization, and we will be.”

He believes CMMC and Central Maine Healthcare’s leaders and staff can help make that happen.

“It’s going to surprise a lot of people, in a good way,” he said. “I think part of the reason that I was brought here with my background is really to keep the clinical aspects at the forefront. Quality and safety, we should be setting the bar. The gold standard for Maine.”  

Tupponce said he is talking with employees and people in the community to learn more about the hospital’s needs and potential solutions. He welcomes ideas.

“I’m not the smartest guy in the room,” he said. “I don’t come up with all the great ideas. I rely on the people that are working bedside with our patients, who do this work every day, to tell us how they would do it better. Help us to redesign the way we provide care.”

He’s excited to help make a difference.

“I think we can do better,” he said. “With health care changing all the time, we always need to be looking for how can we do things better.”

ltice@sunjournal.com

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