RAWLINS – Memorial Hospital of Carbon County’s cafeteria packed with people last Wednesday evening as local business leaders, politicians and members of the public came to meet the hospital’s new chief executive officer during an open house meet and greet.
Taking the vacant spot left by former interim CEO Bob Quist, who officially retired as of December, is Kenneth L. Harman, a Utah native whose hospital experience and background spans more than 30 years.
“I’ve been working in healthcare all my life,” Harman told the Rawlins Times. “My mother was a nurse and my father’s a physician.”
Harman’s credentials include a B.S. in Economics from the University of Utah. And prior to attaining a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1996, he began his career building and managing surgery centers.
Following his Masters, Harman went on to hold numerous positions in hospital management and operations. He’s a former nine-year CEO of Pioneers Medical Center, Walbridge Memorial Convalescent Wing and Meeker Family Health Center in Meeker, Colo. He’s also a former longtime CEO of critical access hospitals in California and Idaho.
What drew Harman to the area, he said he knows the “people working here,” the “quality of the board” and the “quality of the medical staff.”
“My wife and I wanted to find a place that had a good, community-based organization, that had a focus on people, that was reasonably close to the West,” Harman said. “And so we drew a pretty small circle and Rawlins fit the bill.”
According to a hospital press release last October, Board President Rod Waeckerlin expressed high praise for Harman.
“Mr. Harman has demonstrated a history of leadership within other critical access facilities and we are excited to have him direct MHCC and our clinics,” he noted, “as we continue to grow and be at the forefront of healthcare in Carbon County.”
Representing the pinnacle of local healthcare takes a certain philosophy, said Harman. And it all starts at the drawing board.
“I look at this hospital as really diamond in the rough,” Harman said. “There’s some wonderful things that they have here. They take care of people… and I think that we can grow and make it even better.”
So far, Harman said he wants MHCC to extend its medical services to all corners of the county.
“Twenty years ago, it was maybe OK to have everyone come to one spot,” he said. “Nowadays, the expectations in healthcare are really us being able to provide healthcare where people are at.”
These expectations include how the Rawlins-based hospital will bolster its Hanna clinic and how it’s going to provide healthcare in the Platte and Little Snake River valleys.
“We’re interviewing some family physicians to be able to be in Saratoga,” he said. “We’re looking at additional providers that we’ll have out there.”
Meanwhile, Harman intends on enhancing many facets at the Rawlins hospital. He said this includes expanding obstetrics and orthopedic services.
With that, Harman has just newly moved into a new home in the Rawlins area, with his wife Leslie and their 13-year-old son. Harman also has five additional children, including four grandchildren.
And so far, Harman’s seventh-grade son is already playing middle-school basketball.
“In the three and a half weeks I’ve been here, I have come to realize that we just have great people here,” Harman said. “The hospital is positioned well, and I think there’s some things we can really do to grow the trust in us and to grow the services.”
“People are nice, they are welcoming, they are friendly, they’re outgoing… we love that,” Harman later added. “It makes me feel very welcome, so I’m excited to be here and continue that process as well.”