Lorentz succeeds Harvey at LACLT

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Carmen Lorentz, who resigned as director of the Division of Economic Development at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development last week, has succeeded Linda Harvey as executive director of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.

Carmen Lorentz 2016Lorentz submitted her resignation to the Governor and Executive Council on Wednesday and will begin work at the Land Trust in the middle of January.

"I am excited to contribute my skills and experience to the Land Trust's mission of providing high-quality, permanently affordable housing in the Lakes Region," said Lorentz in a prepared statement. "Affordable housing is an essential element of both community and workforce development, fields in which I have a lot of experience and about which I am truly passionate. High quality, affordable housing is critical to developing a workforce and attracting young families."

She said that companies are not looking for sites, but for people. "Location decisions," she said, "are driven by people. It's all about people."

Harvey said that the board of directors of the trust have had a succession plan in place, which included having identified a number of suitable candidates for the position of executive director, Lorentz among them. "She was someone we thought would be a good fit," Harvey said, adding that when she announced her retirement last month we reached out to see if Carmen was interested and found that she was. The board," she continued, "worked carefully and judiciously to choose the right person for the job." Harvey described the appointment of Lorentz as "one of my last big contributions to the organization."

"The timing is great," Harvey said, explaining that the last quarter of the year is the busiest for the organization, which undergoes its audits, prepares its budget, completes its reporting and applies for its grants. She said that with this work done, all will be in order when Lorentz takes the reins.

Lorentz and Harvey will work together for the first few months to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.

"We are thrilled to welcome Carmen on board," said Jason Hicks, chairman of the Land Trust's board of directors. "And we are grateful to Linda for her continued service during the transition. We have all the right pieces in place for success in our first-ever transition to a new executive director."

Lorentz was appointed director of the Division of Economic Development by Gov. Maggie Hassan in 2014 after serving for two-and-a-half years as executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council. During her tenure, the division developed the state's first site selection program — ChooseNH.com — which provides economic and demographic data along with an inventory of commercial and industrial sites for both the state and its municipalities. At the Belknap Economic Development she developed a strategic plan, an internship program, initiated Lakes Region Manufacturing Week and re-established the presence of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.

A native of Gilmanton and resident of Belmont, Lorentz graduated from Gilford High School in 1995, then earned her bachelor's degree in international affairs from George Washington University, graduating summa cum laude, and master's degree in public policy from the University of Maryland. Between 1999 and 2005 she advocated on human rights issues in Latin America for Amnesty International and managed grant programs for nonprofit organizations in Latin America for the Open Society Institute. After a spell as an analyst with the New York State Division of the Budget in Albany, Lorentz joined Camoin Associates, Inc., a consulting firm headquartered in Saratoga Springs, New York, which provides community and economic development services to small and mid-sized municipalities throughout the Northeast.

Since the Land Trust was established 24 years ago, it has invested $87 million in developing 277 units of permanently affordable housing in four municipalities — Laconia, Meredith, Tilton and Wolfeboro — and another 89 units are currently in the pipeline. The Land Trust At the same time, thousands of residents of the Lakes Region have taken part in the financial literacy and home buyer education programs, offered by the trust without charge, many of whom have become homeowners.

Patti Strohla named chief nursing officer at LRGHealthcare

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — "I'm still drinking through the fire hose," remarked Patti Strohla, who just three weeks ago became chief nursing officer at LRGHealthcare, where the nursing staff accounts for about 1,000 of the 1,500 employees.

After three decades in nursing, Strohla came to Laconia from Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Vermont, where she spent the past four years working with Kevin Donovan, who was appointed president and Chief operating officer of LRGH earlier this year. She spent much of nursing career at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and has also worked as consultant to a number of hospitals.

Nurses, Strohla emphasized, are the primary agents of patient care. They are with patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and while the physicians provide the medical direction, nurses provide them with the information they require to ensure appropriate treatment.

"Staffing has been a real challenge," Strohla said, "but not unique to LRGH." However, she said was encouraged to find that 29 nurses had returned to LRGH after leaving in the wake of layoffs, which shook morale in the spring. In speaking with them, she said that time and again she heard them say "this is my community" or "this is my hospital" and has not heard anyone say "it's just a job." Instead, she continued, they are here to care for their friends, family, neighbors and even former colleagues. "It's about their love of their community," Strohla said.

Donovan said that in April LRGH will introduce electronic medical records in place of much of the 1.3 million pieces of paper it has consumed this year, which will represent a significant operational and cultural change for the organization. He described Strolah as an "expert," who has worked closely with Cerner Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, which supplies health information technology to some 18,000 facilities around the world and is the vendor for the project.

Strohla said the electronic medical record-keeping system will not only pare operating costs, but, in her words, "automagically" provide physicians, nurses and patients with access to records at anytime, anywhere, which she said will represent "a huge benefit."

Not long after Donovan was appointed in June, he said that after a difficult spell marked by shuffling of senior leadership, lackluster financial performance and restructuring of operations "reinvesting in our workforce" is an immediate goal. In November, he said bonuses, not based on a percentage of wages and salaries, were distributed to all employees. "We're still not where we want to be," he acknowledged, "but we've made a start."

Likewise, Donovan said that although LRGH has yet to reach its goal of an operating margin of between 2 and 3 percent, it is operating in the black. With financial performance a high priority, along with strengthening the morale of the staff and introducing electronic medical record keeping, he said that plans to reconstruct the emergency department have been shelved in favor of the less expensive alternative of renovating and expanding the existing space.

12-07 Strolah and Donovan

Patti Strohla, recently appointed chief nursing officer at LRGHealthcare, brings 30 years of nursing experience to the job, including four with President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Donovan at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Vermont. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Speedway eyeing three-day music festival for next summer

LOUDON — The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is planning a three-day music event for either July or August of 2017, according to WMUR-TV.

The speedway has filed a letter of intent with the Loudon Board of Selectmen and held sound tests on Tuesday throughout various parts of the property.

The proposal is still in its infancy and no details have been announced or finalized.

— Gail Ober

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