SEARHC restructures leadership for more cohesive organization

Posted: Sunday, December 13, 2009

JUNEAU - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium realigned several departments and made a leadership transition in October to bring together the health services of the organization and make SEARHC departments more of a cohesive health operations.

"With change there also is an opportunity to look at how we meet our organization's changing service-delivery needs," SEARHC President/CEO Roald Helgesen said. "While our work will remain the same, our organizational structure will change slightly in this transition. It is our goal to make these transitions as seamless as possible."

The changes were made when longtime Vice President of Community Health Services Mark Gorman departed SEARHC at the end of September. Instead of three vice presidents reporting to the President/CEO's office, the new structure now has two main branches in SEARHC's organizational tree. Former Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton assumed an expanded position of Chief Operating Officer, while David Edwards remained the Chief Financial Officer.

The biggest changes are in the eight divisions that report to Sutton as a single operating group. Prior to the change, Mr. Sutton was responsible for approximately two-thirds of the health services of SEARHC. The eight divisions include Hospital Services, which has been restructured to focus on inpatient needs at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital; three ambulatory care services divisions to serve our main outpatient service areas (a new Sitka Primary Care Services division, the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau, and the Community Health Care Services division that oversees the clinics in our smaller communities); and four divisions devoted to specialized patient services (Dental Services, Behavioral Health Services, Health Promotion and Community Resource Services, formerly known as Contract Health). The new structure allows SEARHC to better take care of its growing outpatient needs, and it allows for a better integration between the primary health services, while focusing important support to inpatient care.

The realignment keeps many division leaders in their current positions and three Alaska Native employees took on expanded roles during the changes.

Norma Perkins now is the Hospital Administrator and she will manage the day-to-day business operations at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital with the support of a health systems specialist. Perkins holds a bachelor's in business administration from Sheldon Jackson College. She is working toward a master's degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Kendra Pountney became Practice Manager for the Sitka Primary Care Services and she will handle the business and administrative details for that division while Dr. Marty Grasmeder is the division's medical director. Pountney holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a health care administration focus from Alaska Pacific University. She is working on a Master of Business Administration degree with a health care administration focus from Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Ala.

Cindy Baldwin - Kitka became Administrator for the Community Health Care Services division and she will handle the business and administrative details for that division while Dr. David Vastola serves as the division's medical director. Baldwin-Kitka holds an Associate of Arts degree from Sheldon Jackson College, a Bachelor of Arts in health care administration from Alaska Pacific University and a Master of Business Administration in health care management from Regis University in Denver, Colo.

"I am pleased to say this change has allowed us to realize the progress we have made toward developing a greater workforce of Native professionals, while also cultivating valued relationships with our dedicated longtime non-Native professionals," Helgesen said. "It is through these types of relationships that we can ensure our sustainability as an organization."

As CFO, Edwards oversees the Controller, Materiel Management, Revenue Cycle, Facilities Management, Information Services and General Administration divisions, which had few changes. Human Resources will report to the General Counsel. The Executive Office, Compliance and Internal Audit, Planning and Development, General Counsel, CFO, COO, and Corporate Communications departments report directly to the President/CEO.



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