Juneau Assembly approves hospital contract

The Juneau Assembly last night (Monday) voted to approve a consulting contract with Quorum Health Resources for the city’s Bartlett Regional Hospital.

The three-year deal – worth $380-thousand dollars annually – was adopted last month (December) by the hospital’s board of directors, which is appointed by the Assembly.

Quorum is the largest provider of hospital management services in the country, and has been involved in daily operations at Bartlett for more than 20 years.

Under the new contract, the board will hire its own Chief Executive and Chief Financial officers, positions previously employed by Quorum. Past board President Kristen Bomengen says the group felt it was in the best long-term interest of the hospital to have its top-level managers be employed by the local board.

“Our community will have the best control of our own hospital, if we’re able to directly hire and hold our CEO accountable to our board and our community,” Bomengen told the assembly.

The decision means current CEO Shawn Morrow and CFO Garth Hamblin will lose their jobs when the contract takes effect February 1st.

Bomengen says the board is close to hiring temporary replacements for Morrow and Hamblin while it conducts a nationwide search for a new CEO, who will be responsible for hiring a new CFO. The board is also in the process of selecting a search firm to help it recruit and select candidates for the top job. Bomengen expects that to take six months.

“First step is to place individuals in the interim positions, and we’ve already identified a number of candidates that are very good potential for those positions, and during this week we expect to complete that process,” Bomengen says.

The Assembly approved the contract with Quorum by a 7 to 1 vote. Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker was the only member to vote against it, saying he didn’t see the need to change the management arrangement.

“The people that served in those capacities were valued members of the community and provided good service for the community,” Wanamaker says. “We only have to look at the quality of care that Bartlett provides to this community and the advancements it’s made through the years, with the assistance of the board and the management teams, to understand that that model has worked. And I see insufficient reason to justify this significant change.”

Services covered under the contract’s “base fee” include: Business and Strategic planning; Operations and Financial Advisory Support; and free tuition for Bartlett managers at training programs offered by Quorum. The contract also gives the hospital access to Quorum’s purchasing network, which helps with obtaining equipment and supplies at special prices.

Bartlett Regional Hospital has an operating budget of nearly $90-million dollars a year. Most of that is funded by patient fees.

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