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MEEKER I Given that his father was a doctor and his mother a nurse, it’s not surprising Ken Harman went into the medical field.
But he didn’t exactly follow in his parents’ footsteps.
“My dad wanted me to (be a doctor), but I chose to go in more of the administrative side of things,” Harman said. “I wanted to help people, but not necessarily roll up my sleeves and treat people directly.”
As the new CEO of Pioneers Medical Center — Monday was his first official day on the job — Harman went to work immediately.
“I’ve been getting around talking to employees,” he said, taking time out for an interview on his first day at PMC.
Harman replaces Bob Omer as CEO of Meeker’s hospital. Omer, who is now the CEO at Southeast Colorado Hospital in Springfield, resigned in January and stayed on through February. Ken Huey served as interim CEO.
“Ken did a wonderful job in keeping the hospital going and going well,” Harman said.
Most recently, Harman served as CEO of Cassia Regional Medical Center in Burley, Idaho. He has more than 20 years of experience in health care.
“I was looking to try to find an opportunity with an appropriate-size community, where you could raise a family, and an appropriate-size hospital,” Harman said. “As I looked, trying to marry what I was looking for with hospitals, Meeker and Pioneers really rose to the top.”
After making a couple of visits to Meeker before taking the job, Harman was sold.
“Probably the best thing was the people,” he said. “I had an opportunity to interact with physicians and employees and go around into different businesses.
“The people in Meeker and in particular the people here at Pioneers were really welcoming. This to me was a place that felt comfortable raising a family. It has a great rural atmosphere and has wonderful access to recreational activities, plus a great hospital that wants to grow and improve,” Harman said. “That’s what made it jump out at me.”
Harman and his wife, Leslie, have six children; four of them live at home: 16- and 14-year-old daughters and 8- and 4-year-old sons.
“We did a lot of searches finding out about Meeker and the school system and the community,” Harman said. “We thought it was a real good fit for our family.”
Harman will spend the next few months not only learning his way around town but around the hospital. From what he’s observed so far, he likes what he sees.
“The hospital is really well run,” he said. “There are no big problems that I see. What I plan on doing over the next couple of months is sitting down with physicians, employees and community members and getting their take on what are the strengths and weaknesses at the hospital, and then work with the administrative team on building on the strong foundation of quality that they already have.”
“I have a lot of ideas, but I want to make sure I understand what the perceptions and needs are of the community,” Harman said. “The hospital is for the residents of Rio Blanco County and Meeker … and from what I’ve been told the people are really grateful the hospital is here.”