FARMINGTON — The board of directors of Franklin Community Health Network has named the president and CEO of Western Maine Health in Norway, Timothy A. Churchill, as interim leader starting March 1.

Churchill will serve as CEO of both organizations until a permanent replacement is found for Rebecca Arsenault, who will retire Feb. 29.

Western Maine Health and FCHN are members of MaineHealth, the state’s largest health care provider.

“In Tim we get a seasoned health care executive who knows firsthand the challenges that small, rural hospitals face,” said Clint Boothby, chairman of the FCHN board. “We also get someone who has led his organization for all 15 years that it has been a member of MaineHealth. That will set us up nicely as we start on the path of creating our own strategic vision in the wake of our joining MaineHealth in October of 2014.”

Churchill has been the president and CEO of Western Maine Health and its flagship facility, Stephens Memorial Hospital, since 1996. 

While his schedule will depend on the situation from week to week, Churchill said his general plan is to spend two days a week at the network. His official start date is March 1, but he expects to spend time there before that. He said his priorities would be tackling the challenges common to rural hospitals in Maine: recruiting good staff — including physicians — as well as serving a population that includes many elderly patients and people of modest means, all the while disciplining the organization’s fiscal health.

Churchill said working closely with the two organizations’ boards will let him explore further ways to cooperate between Western Maine Health and FCHN. The two organizations already work together on operational functions, such as purchasing.

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