Wednesday night featured another chance for members of the Juneau community to speak with one of the three finalists up in the running for Barlett Regional Hospital’s CEO position.
The meet and greet, hosted at the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Alaska State Library, Archives & Museum, included around a dozen people who spent the time mingling with the candidate of the night, Dennis Welsh, whose visit is his first time in Alaska. A meet and greet for remaining candidate David Keith will happen at the end of this week, and candidate Jeffery Hudson-Covolo already hosted his on Monday.
The public meet and greets are a step forward in the hospital’s efforts to fill the position after turmoil where the hospital endured cycling through multiple CEOs in just a short year and a half span that finally ended last October with Jerel Humphrey serving as interim CEO while the hiring process for a permanent CEO was conducted. The search also took a step back when two finalists dropped out in early June, one day before the first in-person interview in Juneau was scheduled. Hudson-Covolo was the lone candidate that remained in the running after the dropouts, but in an extended search, the board added two candidates, including Welsh, pulled from the larger candidate pool interviewed earlier in the year to fill the two vacant finalist positions.
Welsh’s visit for the position is he and his wife’s first ever visit to Juneau — and Alaska — and the pair arrived on Saturday for a week of interviews and meeting staff members. They traveled from Maryland, where he currently serves as vice president for Rural Health Transformation and executive director of the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center, holding the position since April 2021.
Welsh and other board members chatted around in small circles, talking about his time spent in Juneau and how he likes the community. He said since arriving, his wife and he have enjoyed the “tight knit” feel of the community and the atmosphere of Juneau. As for what he hopes to accomplish if chosen for the position, he said he wants to highlight the already strong health care community that is here in capital city.
“I want a solid future, good service offering, staff are happy and satisfied and to make health care more seamless,” he said. “Health care needs to be fluid in the community it provides and works together to ease delivery of care.”
Welsh brings with him the experience of two decades of senior leadership roles such as president and CEO of Down East Community Hospital in Machias, Maine, and 13 years in executive level roles, including executive vice president at Eastern Maine Health Care Systems’ Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital in Greenville, Maine.
He said he had been looking for different positions across the country, but “Juneau really stood out,” and he enjoys the nature and outdoor accessibility of the town, along with the hospitality he was welcomed with.
Welsh said that even though he is new to Juneau and had not stepped foot in the state before his time being named as a finalist for the position, that he believes he is the right fit for BRH and has what it takes to bring to lead the hospital.
“Leadership is key — I’ve done it, and I’m confident I can do it anywhere,” he said.
As for when the BRH board of directors will make a decision on which candidate will fill the CEO position, a time frame cannot be definitely stated, according to Kenny Solomon-Gross, the hospital’s board president. He did state, however, that deliberation for the process will begin on Saturday following the final public meet and greet that will conclude Friday evening.
“We want someone here long term, not just a short period of time,” Solomon-Gross said. “This is a deliberate search, not a troubled search — it’s a search to find the right fit.”
He added that the board wouldn’t make an announcement until it is certain and confident in the decision, which could take an unknown amount of time.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.