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Ivinson Memorial Hospital is taking steps to include physician input during its leadership and board meetings — a perspective that can often be overlooked by administrators, CEO Doug Faus said.

To improve communication between the administration and the clinician community, Faus established a new position, that of the chief medical officer, to act as liaison between the two.

“(We sought) somebody who is a physician, who could help give their thoughts about how physicians would think about the many issues that we talk about — either at our senior team table or our boardroom table,” Faus said. “We like to make good decisions, but we make wrong decisions without the right people at the table.”

Since its inception, the position has been held by Dr. Ken Barrick, director of emergency medicine at IMH, who assisted the hospital in defining the role. In October, Barrick’s interim position became official when he was selected from among several applicants to continue his role.

Barrick said IMH has a strong physician community, and that he was excited to represent it.

“(IMH) saw that the physician community and the clinical community really benefits from having a voice in the administration,” he said. “So, through the course of my interim period, we worked closely with administration to help find the best path to provide the administrative folks with the physicians’ perspective and enable those physicians to have a strong voice within the community of Ivinson.”

Having the chief medical officer present at leadership meetings — which the administration has done throughout Barrick’s interim tenure — is already helping the hospital, Faus said.

“It’s been interesting to have him in the room the past six months because he brings such a different perspective,” he said. “I’m a huge advocate of listening to doctors and getting their input. But it’s hard as somebody who is not clinically trained to filter through what’s the really important thing the doctor is saying.”

Seeking out physician feedback is vital to hospital leadership, Faus said.

“Some of that feedback is honestly hard to hear,” he said. “But that’s what I want. I want that healthy conflict in these meetings so we’re not all Pollyanna about our decisions, and we really understand how they’re going to impact doctors.”

Faus added Barrick was the best one for the job.

“I love the fact that — especially behind closed doors — he will just tell me point blank, very directly, what his thoughts are,” Faus said. “He’s just a very direct communicator.”

In addition to his extra responsibilities, Barrick will continue to practice emergency medicine with five to eight shifts a month.

“I will always want to remain clinical,” he said. “I love patient care. I think it’s important to be connected to the patients and the community that I serve … It keeps my feet grounded in what we’re all about, which, as the end of the day, is patient care.”

While many physicians at IMH have worked to improve patient care and other aspects of the hospital, Faus said, it was important to establish a position specifically geared toward making physicians’ lives easier.

“If you want to buy a doctor’s time, you have to create a position for that,” Faus said. “That’s another big reason for even posting the position in the first place: I just wanted to make sure we had someone who could work on this a lot more.”

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