Massa resigns to take top position at Minnesota Hospital Association

WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital's chief executive, Lawrence Massa, is leaving to take the top leadership position at the Minnesota Hospital Association.

WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital's chief executive, Lawrence Massa, is leaving to take the top leadership position at the Minnesota Hospital Association.

Massa's appointment as the new president and chief executive of Minnesota's hospital trade group was announced Wednesday. He will take over his new position in mid-October.

Massa, 53, has been the CEO at Rice for almost 15 years.

"It really is hard to think about leaving," he said Wednesday. "I've been fortunate. It's been a real privilege for me to lead this organization."

Wayne Larson, chairman of the board for the city-owned hospital, said the board will meet in the near future to start discussing the search for a new chief executive.


He said he learned last week of Massa's departure.

"It was a surprise but for Lorry it was a great opportunity and we wish him well," he said. "We're going to have to find someone hopefully as good as he is."

The Minnesota Hospital Association is a trade association representing 145 hospitals and health care systems. It serves as the policy-making voice for Minnesota's hospital industry and is also a resource for hospitals and staff on issues ranging from finance to patient safety.

Massa has been active in the association for several years. He has been on the Minnesota Hospital Association board of directors for nine years, is a past president of the board and currently heads its legislative committee.

He said that at first he didn't consider applying when the Hospital Association's top staff position opened up in February, but changed his mind after urging from others.

"A number of people had talked to me about it. I was certainly giving it some thought," he said.

He went through two interviews before being selected as one of four finalists. The position was offered on July 17, after a face-to-face interview with the Hospital Association's executive committee.

There was a strong field of candidates, but Massa stood out for having "a unique blend of experience as a health care executive in the Upper Midwest," Dr. Alan Goldbloom, chairman of the Hospital Association board, said in a statement.


Before coming to Willmar, Massa was chief executive for a hospital in Iowa. He also was secretary of the South Dakota Department of Health during former Gov. Bill Janklow's administration.

"He has a deep understanding of hospital issues and a strong commitment to statewide, collaborative efforts to enhance patient safety, improve the quality of patient outcomes and develop greater transparency," Goldbloom said.

Massa said it was "an honor" to be selected for what amounts to the leading public voice for Minnesota's hospital industry.

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "This was a tremendous opportunity."

He said his appointment comes at a significant time of health care reform in Minnesota.

"I think we're at a critical juncture here. How hospitals are going to fit into that new environment -- there's just so much challenge and opportunity," he said.

His last day at Rice Hospital is Sept. 26. His employment agreement calls for providing 30 days' notice before leaving.

Massa said he'll do as much as he can to help ease the transition.


"I will spend a lot of time and effort and give my best at focusing on Rice issues," he said.

Under his leadership, Rice Hospital completed a $53 million expansion and renovation in 2006, then worked its way out of a $2 million operating loss the following year.

Last year the hospital launched a dental clinic and training site in partnership with the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, a project that's believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. It also created a joint venture with Affiliated Community Medical Centers to provide integrated cancer care and medical imaging.

With a $38 million payroll and more than 900 employees, the hospital is among the city's largest employers.

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