After 40 Years of Service Baptist Health President and CEO Announces Retirement

LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) — Russell D. Harrington Jr., president and CEO of Baptist Health, announced today that he will be retiring on July 1 after 40 years of service to Baptist Health. Harrington will continue to serve the organization in the role of president emeritus and senior advisor.

“It has been an honor to be a part of this healing ministry and be able to serve the health-care needs of our state for 40 years,” Harrington said. “I am proud of the success we have been able to achieve as an organization and consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with so many skilled physicians, dedicated caregivers, and committed staff.”

Jim Jones, chairman of Baptist Health’s board of trustees, said Harrington leaves a lasting legacy of improving health care in Arkansas during his time leading the state’s largest health-care organization.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of serving on the Baptist Health board of trustees for many years, and during this time I have witnessed firsthand Russ Harrington’s passion for our healing ministry,” Jones said. “His dedication to improving the health of Arkansans and his commitment to true servant leadership has made Baptist Health the leading health-care organization it is today.”

Troy Wells, currently the senior vice president of administrative services at Baptist Health, has been named by the organization’s board of trustees as the new president and CEO upon Harrington’s retirement in July.

Baptist Health’s board of trustees also announced other promotions to Baptist Health’s executive team following Harrington’s retirement. Doug Weeks will move from senior vice president of hospital operations to the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Bob Roberts will add executive vice president to his current title of chief financial officer.

“For several years our board has been aware of and planned for this transition,” Jones said. “We have been engaged in a structured and disciplined process to identify an effective leadership team for Baptist Health and to fill the sizable shoes Russ Harrington is leaving behind.”

“Fortunately, with a strong executive group already in place, our process has been an internal one. The board of trustees has the highest level of confidence that this is an experienced and capable executive management team that will lead Baptist Health into the future,” Jones said.

“Consistency and continuity of leadership has been the hallmark of our organizational success, and the executive management team of Troy Wells, Doug Weeks, and Bob Roberts will certainly continue that legacy. Their professional abilities, their shared values, and their focus on the Baptist Health culture of service are exemplary,” said Jones.

Under Harrington’s leadership, Baptist Health was formally structured into a health-system model that has expanded services to more than 175 points of access to become one of Arkansas’ leading health-care organizations and is the state’s third-largest private employer behind only Walmart and Tyson Foods with more than 7,600 employees.

Baptist Health currently consists of eight hospitals with approximately 1,380 licensed beds including 120 rehabilitation beds, a 400-resident retirement center, a physician-service organization, an HMO joint venture, schools for nursing and allied health, and many other health-related services.

“The growth of the organization is a testament to Russ Harrington’s business acumen, and the considerable list of accomplishments achieved during his tenure as president and CEO has truly been extraordinary,” Jones said.

Other highlights of Harrington’s leadership include:

1984 - Med Flight program began
1984 - Parkway Village opened
1985 - Health Advantage HMO began (merged with Arkansas BlueCross BlueShield in 1993)
1989 - Organ transplant program for heart and kidney began
1993 - Arkansas Health Group/Practice Plus established
1995 - Changed organization’s name to Baptist Health
1998 - Hickingbotham Outpatient Center opened
1999 - New Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock campus opened
2004 - Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) opened
2007 - New Baptist Health Medical Center-Heber Springs opened
2008 - Southwest Regional Medical Center facility purchased
2012 - Epic clinical information system installed for advancement of electronic medical record

Harrington held a number of hospital leadership positions before being promoted to Baptist Health’s president and CEO in 1984, including associate executive director of Baptist Health, administrator of Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, executive director of Baptist Memorial Hospital in Kansas City, assistant administrator of Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, and administrative assistant at University Hospital in Little Rock.

Harrington received a Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and a master’s degree in health services management from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Harrington’s honors include being named distinguished alumnus from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas’ 2000 Philanthropic Person of the Year from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, honorary colonel from the Arkansas State Police, the 2001 A. Allen Weintraub Award from the Arkansas Hospital Association, the 2002 Arkansan of the Year from Easter Seals, the 2004 Worthen-Cornett Award from the American Heart Association (Arkansas affiliate), 2006 Top Manager of the Year from the Sales & Marketing Executives Association, 2012 Business of Art Honoree from the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, selected in 2012 by AY Magazine as one of the 12 Most Powerful Men in Arkansas (medical category), and 2012 March of Dimes Citizen of the Year.

Harrington has long been recognized as an active and committed civic leader. He is a former chairman and member of the executive committee of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce where he has served for many years. He also served as president and executive board member of Fifty for the Future, was on the Governor’s Healthcare Roundtable, was a board member of the Boy Scouts of America-Quapaw Council, a charter member of the Arkansas Health Services Commission, a CARTI board member, was on the United Way Board, and currently serves on the executive advisory board of the Hickingbotham School of Business at Ouachita Baptist University.

National-level activities have included the American Hospital Association House of Delegates, the Arkansas Hospital Association board, the board of directors of the Voluntary Hospitals of America (VHA) and the VHA Oklahoma Arkansas Region, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis industry council, and the Southern Baptist Convention committee on nominations.

Harrington and his wife, Donna, have two children, Stephanie and Brooks, and two grandsons, Cole and Patrick, and are members of Immanuel Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and choir member.

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