Frisbie Hospital saved by partnership with HCA Healthcare

Frisbie Memorial Hospital has been an institution of clinical excellence in Rochester for more than 100 years, ensuring that those who call this community home need to look no further than their backyard for quality health care.

When we were elected chairman and vice chairman of the hospital’s Board of Trustees in 2015 and 2017, respectively, Frisbie was experiencing serious financial challenges. The board knew that for Frisbie to survive and thrive for another 100 years, we had to find a partner who was equally committed to our values and high standards of care. With its decades-long track record in New Hampshire at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Parkland Medical Center in Derry, HCA Healthcare stepped up to the plate.

Since Frisbie Memorial Hospital became part of HCA Healthcare in early 2020, the organization has proven itself to be the right partner – one that has consistently invested in improving care and bringing the latest technologies to Frisbie.

That is no small feat. In the first days of Frisbie’s partnership with HCA Healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and endangered the health of so many – stretching hospitals and caregivers to their limits. Thanks to HCA Healthcare, we were able to provide access to personal protective equipment, vaccinations for our colleagues, and financial security during a time of great uncertainty.

This partnership has continued to bring cutting-edge technology and solutions to our community. For example, in March 2022, Frisbie opened its new Breast Imaging Center, bringing life-saving detection technology to women here in Rochester, including 3D mammography and breast ultrasound.

With nearly one in three adults in the Granite State reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression, there was a real gap in access to mental healthcare in our area. HCA Healthcare took action to meet that need and in April 2022, Frisbie opened an outpatient adult Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), but HCA Healthcare didn’t stop there. The behavioral health pod in the emergency department at Frisbie opened in July 2022 to expand access to care for conditions in a setting designed to best meet mental health needs and reduce ER waiting times.

While Frisbie’s low-volume labor and delivery services was closed earlier this year, importantly HCA Healthcare has continued ensure women have access to pre- and post-natal care at Frisbie.

Additional improvements include Frisbie’s bariatric clinic, bringing comprehensive weight loss services, including nutrition, social work, physical therapy, and meetings with bariatric surgeons to Rochester patients.

In March 2023, Frisbie opened its Acute Rehabilitation Unit designed to provide high-quality physical, occupational, and speech therapy for some of the most severely ill and injured patients in New Hampshire and surrounding areas.

Frisbie faced another unprecedented challenge when frigid temperatures in early 2023 caused pipes to freeze and burst, flooding the ORs at Frisbie, forcing the hospital to temporarily close all five operating suites. Barely 24 hours after the weekend flood, HCA Healthcare sent a team to be onsite at Frisbie to assess and mitigate the damage and to get the ball rolling on repairs and renovations. As a result, Frisbie was able to renovate and update the damaged ORs in record time to continue serving patients with state-of-the-art care.

As part of HCA New England Healthcare, Frisbie is a leading employer in the area, with more than 400 local colleagues, and has consistently taken the initiative to give back to our community outside the hospital doors. That includes hosting, in partnership with the Rochester Police Department, the annual “Crush the Crisis” opioid take-back day, as well as the Healthcare Heroes campaign to show appreciation for frontline workers. It includes the hospital’s participation in community events and working closely with local high schools and colleges to encourage students to choose healthcare as a career, and to help mentor and train tomorrow’s healthcare workforce.

In addition to HCA Healthcare’s $27.7 million in capital investment, $43.1 million in state and local taxes, new contracts with the city to provide needed ambulance service and $14.4 million in uncompensated care provided in New Hampshire during 2022 alone, HCA Healthcare makes significant investments at the local level, extending charity care, uninsured discounts and other uncompensated care to those in the Rochester community in addition to their contributions through property and sales tax. 

Change can be hard. And when a community hospital becomes a part of a hospital system the transition is extensive. But the fact is, Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s partnership with HCA Healthcare saved our hospital. Due to this partnership, Frisbie is thriving, and is positioned to provide high-quality care and support for the Rochester community for another 100 years.

Brian Hughes served on the Frisbie Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2020, including as chairman from 2017-2020.

Jim Jalbert served on the Frisbie Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees from 2015-2020, including as vice chairman.

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