Juneau hospital’s CEO and CFO resign

Bartlett Regional Hospital
Bartlett Regional Hospital, photographed on Aug. 2, 2023. (Katie Anastas/KTOO)

Bartlett Regional Hospital CEO David Keith and CFO Sam Muse have resigned.

Hospital board president Kenny Solomon-Gross told Bartlett employees about Keith’s resignation in an email Tuesday. He said the board will “begin the process of ensuring a smooth transition for this position.”

City manager Rorie Watt said he hadn’t spoken to Keith about reasons for his departure.

“Obviously, things have been a little rough lately, but there could be lots of reasons,” Watt said.

The resignations come a week after hospital board member and doctor Lindy Jones told the board that staffing and management problems were leading to inadequate care of behavioral health patients. In a letter to the board, first reported by the Juneau Empire, Jones said there haven’t been enough qualified doctors and nurses to properly care for them.

“In the 30 years I have worked at the hospital, I have never been in a situation where I have been asked to care for mental health patients with no psychiatric call backup,” Jones wrote.

Without enough staff to evaluate and care for patients, he wrote, behavioral health patients are being held in the emergency room or admitted to the general medical floor. There, they’ve become “acutely agitated and expressed violent outbursts in front of other patients in both the ER and on the medical unit,” he said.

Jones blamed hospital leadership for the staffing problems. He described “an inordinately high rate of attrition” in psychiatry, clinical IT and human resources due to a “lack of supportive, consistent and nurturing leadership, threats of retaliation for perceived performance shortfalls and placement of unrealistic demands on employees.”

The Juneau Empire reported that at Tuesday’s board meeting, Keith defended his management practices and said he does not directly negotiate employees’ contracts. He also said limits on the use of temporary employees were overly restrictive.

In his email to Bartlett employees, Solomon-Gross said that “despite the differences expressed in the recent board meeting, we all share the same goal – to deliver safe, quality patient care.”

“Over the last six months, the board has tasked leadership with making tough decisions to address the hospital’s finances, a situation they inherited, and has asked leadership to put the hospital on a path to sustainability,” he wrote. “This has required everyone to make changes – more in a relatively short time than I believe this organization has done in years.”

Bartlett CFO Sam Muse is resigning, too. He joined Bartlett as the controller in August 2022, became interim CFO that November and became CFO in January.

“At the end of the day, I hold my responsibility to my family above all else and so I made a personal decision based on what I felt best for us,” Muse wrote in a statement announcing his departure. “I am proud of my time at Bartlett. I am proud of my coworkers at Bartlett. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the hospital.”

Keith’s and Muse’s resignations are the latest in a string of leadership changes over the last few years. 

In September 2021, CEO Rose Lawhorne resigned and then was fired by the board after having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. She’d been on the job for six months.

Chief Behavioral Health Officer Bradley Grigg resigned the same week. Almost a year later, he was arrested for allegedly stealing $108,000 from the hospital. And CFO Kevin Benson and COO Vlad Toca both left in January 2022.

Previous articleCalifornia man charged with sexually abusing boys had long association with Juneau bible camp
Next articleHealth experts warn of rising rates of syphilis in pregnant women and babies in Alaska