FARMINGTON — After seven years at the helm of Franklin Community Health Network and Franklin Memorial Hospital, President and CEO Rebecca Arsenault announced her retirement, effective Feb. 29.

“It has been a wonderful experience leading this incredible team of professionals,” Arsenault said in a release. “But we are at a place of envisioning a new future for our organization. That work should be undertaken by a leader whose expected tenure extends beyond the time I’ve planned to retire. Therefore, this is both the right decision for FCHN and for me.”

The board Tuesday discussed the process for selecting a new CEO and options for an interim leader, said Clint Boothby, chairman of the FCHN board of directors, in the release. He expects the board to have an announcement on interim leadership within two weeks and a national search for a permanent leader will get underway shortly thereafter.

Arsenault took over as the leader of FCHN in January 2009. She is credited with bringing focus to the organization’s role in the community and to improved quality.

Working through the Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County, Arsenault supported a range of community health initiatives, including programming aimed at tobacco cessation, cancer prevention, work-site wellness and several other priorities, according to the announcement.

FCHN received numerous recognitions for the quality of its care during Arsenault’s tenure. 

This good work did not make FCHN immune from the mounting pressures that small, rural hospital networks have been experiencing in recent years, however. It became apparent that FCHN needed to partner with a larger organization if it was to continue to thrive, the FCHN announcement said.

Arsenault took on this task, and that work led to FCHN’s decision to become a member of MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care system, on Oct. 1, 2014.

“Becky led us through a time of great challenge,” Boothby said in the announcement. “When it became apparent that we needed to partner with another organization, she led our board and the community through a thoughtful process that culminated in our joining an outstanding organization that shares our values of excellent patient care, a healthy community and fiscal responsibility.”

Since joining MaineHealth, Arsenault has overseen FCHN’s initial integration into the system, starting with operational issues such as IT infrastructure, employee benefits and purchasing. Now the work at FCHN is turning to crafting a larger strategic vision in partnership with MaineHealth, a process that will take years to fully implement.

“Continuity through this strategic visioning process will be very important,” Arsenault said in the release. “It wouldn’t be fair to the community, our patients or the wonderful people who work here for me to start down this path and then have my personal priorities interrupt that process. And I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to this next chapter.”

Bill Caron, president of MaineHealth, praised Arsenault for her transformative leadership at a time of change and challenge in the industry.

“Her professionalism and leadership played a crucial role in positioning FCHN for the future,” Caron said. “We are all grateful for her contributions.”


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