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Bartlett transition committee hashes out objectives for incoming CEO

Harff set to start work Aug. 15

Posted: July 26, 2012 - 12:07am

Bartlett Regional Hospital’s management transition committee outlined some directions for Christine Harff, the hospital’s incoming chief executive officer, at its meeting Wednesday, with an emphasis on improving communications both within Bartlett and beyond it.

Kristen Bomengen, chairwoman of the committee, facilitated a group discussion that produced several objectives to be communicated to Harff, who was hired late last month.

In addition to generally bolstering Bartlett’s communications, those objectives include the implementation of the Cerner electronic medical record system, assessing relations between Bartlett and the broader Juneau community, and bridging a perceived “disconnect” between hospital physicians and administrators.

Dr. Alan McPherson spoke of a feeling of “disempowerment” among doctors at Bartlett. He suggested that a group representative of the hospital’s physicians could be appointed to meet with Harff from time to time.

“If one had a committee of, say, silverback physicians, who are able to say, ‘Well, this is the direction that we wish to go,’ the CEO could have conversations with that group of physicians,” McPherson said.

“We do have a joint conference meeting scheduled for the 22nd of August, one week after her arrival, so that could maybe be an opportunity to also expand her opportunity for contacts with the med staff in some way,” Bomengen said.

Harff’s first day of work will be Aug. 15, Human Resources Director Norma Adams said.

“We have housing available for her,” said Adams. “She’s actually going to be moving into the Glacier Highway home (in) which (interim CEO John) Vowell resides. The house is fully furnished and will be ready for her upon arrival.”

Bartlett is also planning a series of welcome receptions and one-on-one meetings to help Harff meet hospital staff, department directors, board members, local officials and members of the community.

“I think the opportunity I had when the president of the board took me to City Hall and personally introduced me to the city manager, I thought that was an excellent introduction there,” Vowell said. “So I would encourage that.”

Robert Storer, Bartlett’s board president, said he would be “happy to” set up such a meeting for Harff.

Board member Lauree Morton expressed concern that Harff could wind up being inundated by the events, meetings and new responsibilities if too much is put on her plate too quickly.

“I know we sort of need to give some direction, but just coming into a very high-powered job, you’re already going to be stressed,” said Morton. “And we’re having her meet all these people, and saying, ‘These are, you know, things that you’re going to have to deal with.’ … But she needs time to breathe, too.

“She needs time to breathe,” Bomengen agreed. “But I think it also helps to have … five things she can put her attention to on kind of a short-term scale so that there’s a focus.”

Bomengen added, “It’s not our intention to set the outcomes or the agenda for what she comes up with about that, but it is to just get something to focus her on during the initial month or so that she’s here.”

The committee meeting was not the only news to come out of Bartlett Wednesday.

The hospital also announced Wednesday morning that it received a accreditation from the Joint Commission by meeting the nonprofit group’s “national standards for health care quality and safety in hospitals.” According to the statement, that accreditation came after an unannounced on-site evaluation earlier this month by Joint Commission surveyors.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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