New South Peninsula Hospital Chief Executive Officer Ryan Smith poses for a photo in a visiting chair in one of the patient rooms on his first official day of work, Aug. 26, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

New South Peninsula Hospital Chief Executive Officer Ryan Smith poses for a photo in a visiting chair in one of the patient rooms on his first official day of work, Aug. 26, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

New South Peninsula Hospital CEO starts work

South Peninsula Hospital’s new CEO, Ryan Smith, had his first official day of work on Monday.

The former SPH chief financial officer and former CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital has been travelling back and forth to Homer to work ahead of the official start date, but is now in town for good. Smith is the hospital’s third CEO in two years after Bob Letson retired in June 2018.

Smith got his first experience in hospital administration in Alaska in 1995, and became CFO of SPH in 1996 until 1998. Later, he headed up CPH in Soldotna from 2006-2011. His most recent position was as CEO of Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas, Wyoming.

Smith said his first official day on Monday went well and that he and his wife are excited to be living in Homer.

“We had a great day yesterday and a great day today also,” Smith said on Tuesday.

Smith said it’s been a goal of his family to retire here, so coming back to Homer now worked out well.

“I’m very excited to be here and to be working with the community on such an important asset in the community,” Smith said.

Smith acknowledged the slight whiplash the community might feel at having another new CEO. After Letson retired in 2018, the hospital hired Joseph Woodin as CEO in February 2018. He worked at the hospital until he resigned in April 2019.

“Obviously one of the top priorities for me is gaining that stability,” Smith said.

He described the challenges the hospital has faced with leadership as an opportunity to create for consistency.

“I can’t speak for things done before, but I want to dedicate myself to not seeing that happen again,” he said.

Of his previous jobs held at hospitals in Alaska, Smith said he’s particularly proud of the $50 million expansion at CPH that he oversaw. Smith is also proud of having been able to work with that hospital board to expand the services there.

Now that he’s back at SPH — which looks a lot different than it did in the 1990s — Smith has his eye on further improvements. He said he likes to view challenges or issues facing the hospital more as opportunities.

“I think there’s still growth happening in Homer,” he said. “… So I think we have a lot of opportunities to improve.”

One challenge that faces most small hospitals is that of reimbursement, Smith said, but that’s not an issue unique to Homer. Areas he sees as having potential for growth are the hospital’s primary care base in the area as well as specialty surgical services.

When he’s not at the hospital, Smith plans to be out on the water fishing. He and his wife are even having a new boat built for them here.

“I love Homer and everything that it has to offer,” he said.

Smith also expects to become a bigger part of the greater Homer area.

“In my role here at the hospital, it’s very important for me to be part of the community and participate in community events,” he said.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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