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Southcoast CEO takes leave of absence days after domestic dispute

Dr. Rayford Kruger, the chief physician executive for the Southcoast Physicians Group, will lead Southcoast Health on an “interim basis,” the board of trustees announced Friday

Southcoast Health President and CEO Keith Hovan.handout

The board of Southcoast Health announced that CEO and President Keith Hovan will take a leave of absence, just days after he was arrested at his home and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery.

Dr. Rayford Kruger, the chief physician executive for the Southcoast Physicians Group, will lead Southcoast Health on an “interim basis,” the hospital’s board of trustees said in a memo to hospital employees on Friday.

“These past few days have been difficult, and we deeply appreciate your continued focus on our patients and our mission,” read the memo. “Hovan will take a leave of absence effective immediately. We will continue to refrain from comment while the matter is adjudicated.”

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Hovan, 59, was arrested in his home in Rochester, Mass. last weekend for allegedly striking his wife during a domestic dispute that escalated after the couple argued over which TV show to watch, according to legal filings. He was arrested on a sole count of a misdemeanor assault and battery. His wife later posted $240 bail at the police station, as previously reported by the Globe.

On Monday, he was arraigned in Wareham District Court, where a not guilty plea was entered for him. He was released on personal recognizance.

According to police records, the couple’s daughter called 911 on Nov. 6. When police arrived, Hovan exited his front door with his hands in the air and said “something along the lines of, ‘It was me, I did it, my arm hit her in the face.’”

The police report said Hovan was “covered” in a liquid that smelled like an alcoholic beverage. Hovan’s wife appeared shaken, according to the report, and later told the police that the couple had a “stupid argument.”

Police also said that Hovan had “in excess of forty firearms” located in the home. Responding officers seized the guns and suspended his license to carry. He is due in court on Nov. 24.

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After the news broke that Hovan was arrested, the board released a statement that said he had alerted them immediately of his arrest and that “The Hovan family has the full support of the Board as they deal with this personal family matter.”

On Friday, the board said that there is “nothing more important” than their patients, community, and employees.

“We are still living through a global public health emergency, and we must all remain singularly focused on delivering the exceptional care that is our bond with our community,” read the board’s statement.

The memo included a statement from Hovan, who said, “These past few days have been difficult for you and all the people whom I love and care about. The allegation has caused an unfair distraction to you all. For that reason, effective immediately, I am taking a leave of absence from my role as President and CEO of Southcoast.”

“As we continue to address the greatest public health crisis of our lifetimes, Southcoast Health deserves a leader unencumbered by current personal matters to run what I believe to be the most exceptional health care system in the state,” wrote Hovan. “There is nothing more important to me than my family. Please know that the pride, gratitude and awe I feel in leading such an incredible group of dedicated and talented employees is a very close second.”

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Southcoast Health serves patients in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.