LRGH chief nursing officer lacks RN
By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Lakes Region General Hospital moved its chief nursing officer to a new role last month because her lack of an active nursing license violated a federal agency's guidelines.
Hospital President and CEO Kevin Donovan said Patti Strohla will resume her role as soon as she gets her New Hampshire license.
Strohla, who is experienced in the implementation of electronic medical records systems, allowed her license as a registered nurse to expire in Maine in 2005.
“We were advised at the time of Patti's hiring that she could have one year to get her New Hampshire nursing license in place and remain in compliance with CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) guidelines,” Donovan said. “Clearly, that was poor guidance and I take responsibility for the mistake.”
He said the CMS performed an unannounced survey at the hospital on July 24 in response to anonymous complaints filed with multiple agencies regarding Strohla's licensing situation and allegations of poor nursing care.
The survey showed there was no credible or documented evidence of poor nursing care, but that the hospital was out of compliance with CMS rules requiring the chief nursing officer to be a registered nurse, Donovan said. Her role with the hospital was temporarily changed based on that finding.
The hospital put out a statement Tuesday praising Strohla, who has been a key person in implementing new electronic medical record technology.
“Like most other healthcare organizations, LRGHealthcare is going through changes in an effort to continually improve quality of care and implement new technologies to improve outcomes for our patients,” the statement said.
“In her role, Patti is at the forefront of these changes. We understand that change can be difficult for some people; however, our organization as a whole understands the need to continually improve for the benefit of our patients.”
Vanessa Stafford, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Hospital Association, said a section of the state's code of administrative rules governing hospital operations pertains to licensing requirements for chief nursing officers.
That section states that a hospital shall have a full-time director of nursing services who is licensed in the state of New Hampshire. It specifies that this position shall be held by a registered nurse.
Denise Nies, New Hampshire Board of Nursing administrator, said it is standard for chief nursing officers to be registered nurses as they are required to provide oversight over nursing care, practices and policies.
Jim Boffetti, senior assistant New Hampshire attorney general, said he is aware of this licensing situation, but declined further comment.
Strohla's predecessor in the job was Jacqueline Dawe, a registered nurse who is now senior director at Franklin Regional Hospital.
Strohla's current job title is interim director of operations. Serving as interim chief nursing officer is now Kendra Peaslee, a registered nurse.
Patti Strohla was appointed chief nursing officer at LRGHealthcare In December. She is shown with LRGH President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Donovan. (File photo)