38, vice president of operations
Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services
New Albany, Ind.
During Michael Harlowe's six years at 242-bed Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind., he never let anyone forget, says Matthew Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the hospital and a former coworker of Harlowe's.
"Mike, coming from the outside, tried to really let people know just how good we had it," Bailey says. "People in Vincennes, they stay here forever, they don't venture out. He brought that outside perspective."
Harlowe, now vice president of operations at 198-bed Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany, Ind., worked at Good Samaritan from January 1992 to March 1998. During that time, he stressed the importance of excelling in the functions that he supervised as vice president of professional and support services, says Bailey, who moved up through the management ranks at the hospital with Harlowe.
For Harlowe, 38, the management challenge is to convey to employees how important each one of them is in serving the community. "I think you try to use everyday examples" to drive that point home, he says. For instance, when families are huddled in the waiting room, whether they are fraught with concern about the health of a loved one or eagerly awaiting the birth of a child, it's important for that area to look clean and inviting, he says; the person who cleans that area plays a big role in the hospital's ability to serve its customers.
Healthcare was a natural career choice for Harlowe. His father, Stuart, was a physician practicing at several southern Indiana hospitals, including Floyd Memorial, and his mother, Betty, was a nurse; both are retired. He says he chose to pursue a career as an administrator, rather than a provider, because "I like the opportunity to wear a lot of hats and enjoy the hands-on, bricks-and-mortar side of healthcare, planning new services."
Harlowe earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1986 at Hanover (Ind.) College, then added a master's in social welfare in 1988 at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He went on to earn a master's degree in health administration from Indiana University's Indianapolis campus in 1993.
At Good Samaritan, Harlowe recruited a second nephrologist and showed that Vincennes could easily support the added specialist, Bailey says. Harlowe also developed a home-health agency, oversaw a major upgrade to the hospital's renal dialysis program and won certificate-of-need approval for hospice services across the state line in Illinois.
"I've never seen an organization shrink itself to success," Harlowe says. "I think that's very important to remember. You always have to go for the growth."
Harlowe has continued to follow that motto at Floyd Memorial. He managed the construction of a $6 million outpatient cancer center last year and is overseeing the addition of the hospital's second urgent-care center, expected to handle 14,000 visits annually.
He also led the effort to open a primary-care clinic for patients without health insurance, who are mostly from working families who earn too much to qualify for government programs but can't afford or aren't offered employer-sponsored coverage. The clinic-which operates on philanthropic and state grants and with the help of many volunteer physicians-has provided 4,000 patient visits since it opened in February 2000.
"This takes them beyond the emergency room and gets them more continuity of care," Harlowe says. And it works for the hospital, too, keeping nonemergency patients from jamming Floyd Memorial's waiting room, he says.
The Family Health Center, as the clinic is known, is an example of what hospitals should be promoting. "I think we need to do a better job of telling our story," Harlowe says. "Hospitals, in collaboration with their physicians and their staffs, do great things every day."