New Bartlett Regional Hospital CEO focuses on collaboration

Bartlett Regional Hospital

Bartlett Regional Hospital. File photo.

Today (Wednesday) was the first day on the job for Bartlett Regional Hospital’s new CEO Chris Harff.

She joins the city-owned hospital from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, where she was CEO of Sanford Medical Center. Harff says she spent her first day touring Bartlett, getting to know some of the staff, and asking questions.

“What are our opportunities here? How can we exploit them? What are our challenges here? Why are they challenges? How would you fix them? What would you focus on if you were me?” Harff says. “And I’m already starting to hear the same, couple two, three issues.”

She says one immediate priority will be starting an electronic medical record system as required by the national health care reform act. She says a lot of groundwork has been done on the project, but more is needed before the system can go live.

Besides that, she says her first 30 days will focus on collaboration.

“It’s been awhile without a permanent CEO, so part of it’s a learning process,” she says. “What am I like? And I’m trying to learn that about the board members and physicians so we can have optimal communication.”

Harff has a nursing degree and an MBA, both from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bartlett’s board of directors, which is appointed by the Juneau Assembly, named her CEO in late June.

The board decided late last year to hire its own CEO after more than two decades of an outside management company running the hospital.

John Vowell had been serving as interim CEO since February.