Bartlett Regional Hospital’s board of directors will have its executive committee begin evaluating options during the coming week for who will temporarily replace departing CEO David Keith, who offered his resignation letter early this week.
During an early morning meeting Friday, the board officially accepted Keith’s resignation before entering into an executive session to discuss possibilities for the interim position.
Keith’s resignation, alongside Chief Financial Officer Sam Muse who resigned July 26, comes in the wake of multiple controversies at the hospital, including recent accusations of “inhumane” treatment of patients and mismanagement of staff. Board President Kenny Solomon-Gross addressed the controversies during the meeting.
“Although we may be having some turbulent times and in our administration, our staff at Bartlett is so committed to patient care I have had nothing but compliments on the way that we care for our community,” he said. “It’s safe to come to Bartlett, that you will be cared for properly, and that we’re all community members and we’re all in this to take care of each other.”
Keith and Muse are both offering to remain in their positions at the hospital for a 90-day transition period.
During the public portion of the meeting, two staff members at the hospital offered comments to the board.
Nathan Overson, an employee at the hospital in its compliance department, said the recent reporting of the accusations made by a doctor who is a board member at the hospital about patient treatment and employee management was having an “extremely negative impact” on staff members.
“I do want the board to understand the importance of recognizing that these are not just organizational disruptions,” he said. “The culmination of these events has caused a really heavy stress to individuals and the organization.”
According to Overson, in months leading up to the announcement of the CEO and CFO’s resignation from the hospital this week, the healthcare facility was already facing a wave of other staff members leaving their roles with the hospital.
Overson cited departures from the chief human resource officer, chief behavioral health officer, and respective staff from the departments leaving their positions.
“Whatever their reason for leaving, it has affected many of my fellow employees,” he said.
Overson underscored the need for a “coherent leadership response to prevent damage to institutional core values, morale and reputation.”
Autumn Muse, a nurse at Bartlett’s quality department, also gave public comment, speaking both from her position as a staff member and on behalf of fellow staff members who shared their concerns with her. Muse cited concerns about the recent reporting of controversies at the hospital.
Hospital spokesperson Erin Hardin said she did not have permission to confirm if Autumn Muse was in relation to departing CFO Sam Muse, whose last name shares the same spelling. The Empire published a birth announcement in 2018 that reference the birth of a child with both an Autumn Muse and Sam Muse cited as parents in Juneau.
“Staffers are saying that they’re worried, they’re upset that the (Juneau Empire) article has brought negative attention and focus to our hospital, and are very important to hardworking frontline staff,” Muse said. “They’re worried that people will choose not to seek care here because of it. I have had staff even in tears about this week.”
Muse said the staff at Bartlett is “hardworking, compassionate and dedicated to the patients they care for.” She expressed hope that the hospital board and Assembly can work together to navigate the hospital through its challenges.
“I think it’s important for our community to know that Bartlett continues to provide safe and high-quality care, and that we want our community members to continue to seek care at Bartlett when they need it,” she said.
Assembly member and hospital board liaison Michelle Bonnet Hale said the Assembly plans to meet with the hospital board in the near future to discuss the matter, and the concerns and messages brought by staff. She thanked the two staff members for offering public comment.
“I support staff 100%. And I will work on getting that message out as an Assembly member,” she said. “I’m sorry you’re all going through such difficulties but you’ve got my personal support and you have the support of the Assembly.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.