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Harrison getitng down to business

As the new chief executive officer of Harrison Hospital, Scott Bosch has co-opted the message of the popular business book, “Good to Great.”

As with many of these publications, the idea is straightforward and simple: When certain techniques are applied, a company can make the leap from competent to extraordinary.

“We want to create a culture that allows this company to be great,” he said. “We can turn it into an organization that people want and the county deserves.”

And while Bosch has been on the job only a few weeks, many employees already see the difference.

“Everyone liked Dave Gitch,” said Harrison spokesperson Patti Hart of Bosch’s predecessor. “But Scott has energized us and will be the one to bring us to the next level.”

Bosch first takes a pragmatic, objective approach.

“A hospital is a business,” he said. “We have a board of directors running things, and we have customers. But we don’t make widgets or inanimate objects — we save lives. We aim to create a healthy environment and reduce pain.”

There are some differences between a hospital and a company like Ford Motor Co. If Ford messes up a car, chances are it can be easily repaired before it does any harm.

Hospital mistakes are less reversible. And a car company can project expenses and carefully budget, while a hospital’s expenses are at the mercy of an unpredictable and diverse group of private contractors, otherwise known as doctors.

There is another major difference between a hospital and a car dealership. Try this: Show up at a car dealer and tell them you really need a car in order to survive, to get to work in the morning and pick up the kids in the afternoon.

Then go to the local hospital right after a heart attack. Guess which will take care of you first and worry about payment later.

Of all the statistics driving Bosch, the most significant are data showing 30 percent of Kitsap County residents get their health care in other counties. He hopes to turn this around, emphasizing the hospital’s strengths while underscoring the convenience factor.

“Harrison has not done a good job of telling a story,” he said. “We do a lot of things that people don’t know about until they need them. Our cancer care is second to none, and our cardiac mortality rate is better than the majority of hospitals. There are some things that aren’t appropriate here, like massive head trauma, but for a lot of situations it’s cheaper and better to have it done right here.”

In his effort to change these numbers, Bosch is borrowing from the business world. The hospital is conducting a survey of 1,000 residents of Kitsap and surrounding counties. After analysis, the data will be used to develop a marketing plan and develop a brand identity.

“We will make a concerted effort to correct local misconceptions,” Bosch said. “People underestimate our capabilities and are unaware of what we can do.”

If Bosch’s efforts succeed and Harrison gets more patients and generates more revenue, no one will necessarily get any richer. The plan is to channel profit into the purchase of new equipment that will improve service. Which will generate more revenue. And so on.

One example is the AngioJet, a $35,000 machine that, in simplest terms, diagnoses and repairs arterial blockage with the creative use of catheters, shunts and balloons.

Purchased last year, it’s only been used three times.

“The local doctors want to use this,” said technician George Maddux. “They want someone else to use it first. So we need to get the word out that it’s here and it works.”

The AngioJet is only the latest of Harrison’s facility improvements. Its $13 million emergency department is just one year old, and its rooftop helipad has been operational since March.

And in November, the hospital implemented image-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) as part of its radiation oncology services. This software allows the administration of more precise dosages with less damage to adjacent tissue and is especially beneficial for patients with prostate as well as head and neck cancers.

As hospitals necessarily assume characteristics of a business, Bosch said they will always be a public service.

“We are a community hospital,” he said “We’re here to take care of our friends and neighbors.”

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