RUMFORD — John Welsh is retiring as chief executive officer of Rumford Hospital on July 1.

“The hospital is doing well, so this is a good time to step down,” Welsh, 66,  said Monday afternoon. He has held the position for 23 years.

Welsh said when he moved to Maine from Oklahoma 23 years ago, his plan was to eventually retire to the family farm in Boothbay and that’s what he will do. The Massachusetts native plans to buy a tractor, and with his wife, Rebecca, try his hand at vegetable and tree farming. They also plan to travel, he said.

But he won’t be leaving the medical field entirely. He will serve as chairman of the state board for the seven Community Dental practices scattered throughout the state, including one in Rumford, and be a member of the board for the Lifeflight Foundation.

Welsh said he is proud of the many changes at Rumford Hospital, particularly the varied and stable medical staff, the merger with Central Maine Healthcare, the switch to electronic medical records, and the ability to keep costs down.

“I am proud of what we do for our community every day. I am proud that our community has come to admire and value this hospital. It will be difficult to leave, but I truly believe I am leaving Rumford Hospital in the best possible hands,” Welsh said.

“I leave with very mixed feelings,” he said.

In a news release from CMHC, chairwoman of the Rumford Hospital board, Jolan Ippolito, said Welsh has done an outstanding job as the hospital’s leader.

“Our hospital is a much better place today than it was two decades ago … We have more resources available locally than most people can imagine,” she said.

Peter Chalke, CMHC president and chief executive officer, said in the release that Welsh has always been a “steady hand at the helm. He skillfully managed the merger of Rumford into the Central Maine Healthcare system and the conversion of Rumford to a critical access hospital. He worked tirelessly to create the new Rumford Hospital.”

David Frum, who was hired last August as president of Bridgton Hospital, will take over Welsh’s responsibilities and split his time between the two rural hospitals. Both facilities are part of Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston.

Welsh said having one CEO for both hospitals will also reduce costs for CMHC.

The Welshes have two adult children and two grandsons. One family lives in Maine; the other on the West Coast.

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