RGH board chooses new administrator

Freedom New Mexico

Larry E. Leaming of Colorado will be the new Roosevelt General Hospital administrator, the hospital board announced Monday morning.

After a brief executive session, board members voted unanimously to hire Leaming. Board President Terry Cone said Leaming’s salary will be $120,000 a year.

Leaming replaces retiring Administrator James D’Agostino, who has said he and his wife want to spend more time with their grandchildren.

Leaming, president of the Institute for Rural Health Leadership in Grand Junction, Colo., said he planned to start work in Portales at the beginning of 2010.

“I can’t get down there fast enough,” he said. “But we do have a house to sell.”

The first thing he wants to do is get to know the people here and let them get to know him, he said. Once an administrator has established relationships and compiled a more complete view of the organization’s and community’s strengths and weaknesses, Leaming said, he can provide leadership the organization needs to be successful.

He said he takes to heart the responsibility of running a health care facility and caring for patients.

“James has done a good job building this organization from scratch, and I hope to walk in his shoes and take it to a higher level,” Leaming said.

Leaming sees no reason people can’t work together and meet the needs of the community.

Board Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Lonnie Alexander said Leaming was “eminently” qualified, the RGH medical staff was pleased with him, and the board was impressed.

“We feel he has lots of ideas to lead our hospital forward,” Cone said.

Board member Peggy Davis cited Leaming’s experience with rural hospitals as a reason for his hire.

Leaming and his wife of 38 years, Linda, intend to visit Portales next week to spend time in the community, meet people and look at housing, he said.

Leaming has already been to Portales for an in-person interview. He said he found everyone he met to be warm, friendly and open.

“I never found a single grouch in the community,” Leaming said.

That is one thing he looks for in a place to live and work.

“You hope to find an organization in great shape, and I certainly did,” he said, naming the other characteristic he looks for.

Leaming said RGH is a beautiful facility with warm people, top-notch equipment and support from the board and community.