Top-level staff turnover continues at Bartlett Regional Hospital’s behavioral health department

Bartlett Regional Hospital 2018 12 01
Bartlett Regional Hospital, pictured on Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Behavioral health patients continue to seek care at record rates while there’s upheaval in top-level management at Juneau’s Bartlett Regional Hospital.

In September, the hospital’s CEO and chief behavioral health officer resigned abruptly. An interim CEO is in place while the board searches for a permanent one.

The behavioral health department is trying to hire four doctors.  That includes three psychiatrists. And, it must replace its medical director, psychiatrist Dr. Joanne Gartenberg, whose resignation takes effect at the end of this week.

The hospital recently named an interim chief behavioral health officer, Karen Forrest. She will be in place for the next six months — until the hospital board hires a permanent CEO who can, in turn, hire a permanent replacement.

“I really want to just continue to strengthen the behavioral health service continuum that Bartlett provides, it’s a robust range of services that are very solid,” she said. “And so my goal is to continue to strengthen those to ensure that we can continue to provide behavioral health services to our community; we know that they’re very needed.”

Forrest is a former deputy commissioner of the state’s health department and more recently held an executive role with Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc., or JAMHI.

The hospital was in talks to continue supporting the southeast community of Haines with behavioral healthcare after last year’s deadly landslides. But hospital administrators have not answered questions about the future of that project

Claire Stremple

Alaska News Reporter, KTOO

I believe every Alaskan has a right to timely information about their health and health systems, and their natural environment and its management. My goal is to report thoughtful stories that inform, inspire and quench the curiosity of listeners across the state.

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