By Michelle Seeber
Lance Gatlin has been appointed to become administrator of Parmer County Community Hospital in Friona upon the retirement of the current administrator, Bill Neely.
The 33-year-old Gatlin said Monday he recently took over operational responsibilities at the hospital as part of the transitional process.
Neely’s retirement date has not yet been set, he said.
“Lance is a fine young man,” Neely said of Gatlin. “He will do well.”
Gatlin was born in Friona and grew up there through most of his high school years. He currently serves as assistant administrator at the critical access facility, which has 25 beds.
“The hospital staff here is committed to high-quality patient care and professional experience,” Gatlin said. “We’d like to expand on that. Of course we look for opportunities to improve operational and fiscal efficiency.”
Gatlin holds a bachelor of science degree in health care administration from Texas State University, formerly Southwest Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas.
He was hired to take on the role of hospital administrator in August, with the transitional time frame undetermined, he said.
Gatlin and his wife, Belinda, have been married 10 years and have three children, 7 and 4 years old and 18 months old.
Before returning to Friona, he worked for 10 years for a California company called Medical Evaluation Specialists, a physician practice management company specializing in forensic medicine.
For the last five years, Gatlin has been in California working for that company. He said his most recent role was president of the western region.
Gatlin said he returned to Friona because “my wife and I decided we would like to get back in Texas. The opportunity in Friona was just a fortunate occurrence.”
Hospital administrator Bill Neely, 72, who has been at the helm for more than 13 years, said during his time there the hospital has made “great strides and progress in terms of patient care.”
“That would certainly describe many of the accomplishments over that period of time,” Neely said.
As for his retirement, Neely said: “It will be several months down the road.”