DHA Alumni Spotlight: Larry Troxell

Samantha Paternoster
October 12, 2021
Dr. Larry Troxell, with Dr. Jillian Harvey, DHA division director.
Dr. Larry Troxell, with Dr. Jillian Harvey, DHA division director.

Reviving rural health care one hospital at a time

Larry Troxell, Doctor of Health Administration ’17, is on a mission to preserve and enhance health care by reviving rural hospitals. After serving as CEO and COO at several rural hospitals previously in danger of closing, Troxell is replicating his success as CEO of the Comanche County Medical Center (CCMC) in Texas. He attributes his ingenuity and the hospital’s extraordinary turnaround to the MUSC DHA program.

“The DHA program is designed to allow ambitious health care professionals to turn their experiences into opportunities to teach, shape public policy, and lead complex organizations,” shared Jillian Harvey, Ph.D., division director for the DHA program. “Dr. Troxell exemplifies what we hope for our graduates. He is making a difference in his community and serving as an example for other health care leaders.

At CCMC, Troxell has once again rebuilt a vital medical center – only this time, he’s developing it as an example of what can be done in rural areas with the right leadership. His dedication to ensuring that everyone has access to health care in rural Texas has saved countless lives and earned him public recognition as the 2020 Comanche, Texas, Man of the Year.

The journey to finding his life’s work

When he entered early retirement from St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Troxell and his wife purchased a ranch west of Tulsa in Pawnee County. But his plans to manage and develop family businesses changed after several years when he discovered that more than one nearby hospital had closed, and another was in danger of closing soon. Troxell reached out to the chairman of the board and offered to help them save the hospital, free of charge.

“In the process of determining their problems, they offered me the role of chief operating officer. The more I worked in it, the more I loved it,” said Troxell. “I really believe I was born to do this. I don’t intend to retire. The almighty God will tell me when, and until then I’ll continue to work.”

In 2014, after having worked with several hospitals to turn their situations around, Troxell knew that if he was going to continue this work, he needed his doctorate in health administration and a new approach. Rather than turning things around and moving on, he wanted to find a rural hospital that needed direction and leadership, a facility he could straighten up and continue to develop.

Since his arrival at the CCMC in 2018, the facility has earned a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). What was once just a theorem of what could be done in a rural area is now a booming campus serving six counties and treating patients from as far away as Louisiana.

“We’re improving population health while providing critical access health care services to everyone in our six-county service area,” said Troxell.

Building a legacy of success

In just three years, under Troxell’s leadership the CCMC has built a new emergency medical service station in De Leon, Texas, with another to follow in Comanche, as well as new rural health clinics and pharmacies in Rising Star and Dublin, Texas. They are currently building a 100-bed nursing home on the main campus, with a 60,000 square foot fitness center to follow. They even have a new mobile unit, allowing them to treat the patients who cannot get to their clinics.

Facilities are just one part of their growth. They are using new infusion interventions to treat diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, gout, Crohn’s disease, MS, neuropathy, retinopathy, and even COVID-19. “Patients come from as far as Fort Worth, Austin, and even Louisiana. We’re helping keep people out of hospitals through in-patient and out-patient infusions,” said Troxell.

They’re also conducting research on diabetes related diseases, with comparative effectiveness research as a cornerstone of their studies.

“This research was made possible by the DHA program. Dr. Kit Simpson and Dr. Jillian Harvey were key to my education in this program, and without their knowledge and ability to develop new research scientists, this work could not be done,” said Troxell. “No one else in this region is doing the research and chronic disease interventions that have been initiated by our organization.”

As the facility works to reduce chronic conditions, they have also developed an occupational medicine program to help employers remove all financial barriers to health care for their employees.

“A rural hospital is one of the primary reasons towns can thrive,” said Troxell. “I would not be doing what I’m doing today – having this impact and effect on a region – without having gone to MUSC.” Saving and improving lives by reviving hospitals continues to be one of his greatest accomplishments.