Hospital enters Harff era

New CEO had busy first day Wednesday

Bartlett Regional Hospital welcomed its new chief executive officer Wednesday with a day full of meetings, tours and introductions.


Christine Harff arrived on the job at about 8 a.m. after flying in from Europe, according to administrative assistant Toni Petrie.

“She just flew in,” Petrie said Wednesday. “She was in a different country and flew from there to here. And of course with the time change … she’s been up since 4:30.”

Harff’s first day was a busy one. Her schedule kept her from commenting Wednesday.

“I have seen her for all of five minutes this morning,” said community relations director Jim Strader. “She’s booked solid.”

Petrie, who keeps the CEO’s calendar, said Harff has been “inundated with people coming in and out.”

“She’s been meeting with board members and getting the hospital tour of each department – meeting lots of people today, and tomorrow morning,” Petrie said. She added, “The first few days and the first few weeks is when you want to put faces to names and departments.”

Members of the hospital staff have been eager to meet the new CEO, Petrie added.

“They were excited about her coming,” said Petrie. “And I think everybody’s ready to just move forward, and we’re excited about where she’s going to take us.”

Harff previously worked as the CEO of Sanford Medical Center in Thief River Falls, Minn. She left that job to assume her current position this summer.

Before her stint at Sanford, Harff worked in nursing at several hospitals, including Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Petrie said that experience is already winning her some appreciation at Bartlett.

“She’s got a nursing background, and so just doing the tour, she was really knowledgeable about a lot of the (equipment) in the departments and stuff, which was really cool,” said Petrie. “I think the nurses really like that, relate well to that.”

For Petrie’s part, she said she was enjoying getting to know Harff.

“I think she’ll be great,” Petrie said. “I really like her.”

Harff is not the only agency head starting work in Juneau this month.

Hal Hart, the incoming director of the Community Development Department, is set to begin Aug. 20.

“We’ve prepared some transition materials for him to review when he gets here,” said Greg Chaney, acting director of the department.

Chaney said the CDD has been short-staffed, and staff on hand have been working hard to compensate. Although Chaney is serving as acting director, he is also Juneau’s planning manager, meaning he is carrying out two jobs at once.

“We’re anticipating (Hart’s) arrival will be … back to normal in our staffing,” Chaney said. “There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement, because you never know exactly what the new direction is going to be.”

Previous director Dale Pernula retired from the department in April. Chaney was one of four finalists in the city’s search for a new permanent director before Hart was hired for the job.

At Bartlett, Harff succeeded Shawn Morrow as the permanent CEO. John Vowell had been Bartlett’s interim CEO since Morrow left the hospital in January.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at


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