In the community

Hart relishes new role as Valley Family Health Care chief executive officer

ONTARIO – Ken Hart is no stranger to leadership.
For four years he was president of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario before he stepped down in 2020 and became the chief financial officer for Valley Family Health Care.
Last week, Valley Family Health Care announced Hart was the medical group’s new chief executive officer.
“I am very honored the board tapped me for this role. Valley Family is an extremely important health partner for our community,” said Hart.
Valley Family Health has its headquarters in Payette and employs 270 people and serves more than 21,000 patients. The medical group furnishes medical, pediatric, women’s care, dental, behavioral health and nutrition services. A local nonprofit governed by a 10-member board, Valley Family Health opened in 1982.
Hart’s job as chief executive officer is multi-faceted where he is compelled to focus on the big picture in terms of goals but, at the same time, ensure the nonprofit concentrates on its employees and, most of all, its patients.

“We have an awesome staff. They work for Valley Family because they care about our mission and the community,” said Hart.
Hart, who is also a member of the Ontario City Council and the Treasure Valley Community College Board, said as CEO he sets the tone for the Valley Family Health.
“I find out what our staff and providers need and make sure they have the resources to do that and support my team. Part of my role is also public involvement and outreach,” said Hart.
Now, he said, the biggest challenge for Valley Family Health is recruiting.
“I think that is one of my most important jobs. Making sure we are fully staffed is one of the most important things I can spend time on,” he said.
Hart said there is a need for more employees across the board.
“Whether it is a receptionist, nurses, medical doctors, dentists, in every one of those areas we have a need,” said Hart.
Hart said there is a nationwide worker shortage in the health care.
“We have to make sure we are looking in the right place for people who want to be in our community,” said Hart.
He said it’s also important Valley Family Heath Care “grows its own” in terms of future employees.
That’s why he believes local partnerships – with organizations such as Malheur County Poverty to Prosperity and TVCC – are crucial. Hart is member of the Poverty to Prosperity Board.
“We have to find people with a local connection to the community,” he said.
He said it is always a challenge to “figure out how to get people to move from Florida to Fruitland.”
“So that’s our No. 1 need now. We have the patients and we have the need, we just need to continue to attract providers,” said Hart.
Hart said he came to Malheur County from Portland more than 18 years ago because of his wife, Sheila.
“She was born and raised here. We would visit all the time because my in-laws lived here. Sheila and I would always say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to live here?’” said Hart.
When the comptroller job at the community college opened, Hart applied and was hired.
Now, Hart said most mornings he is at his desk by 7 a.m.
“If I am not at my desk I am at the Plaza Inn having breakfast with someone because it is an important part of my job, whether its staff or community members,” he said.
He also said he is heavily involved in other community programs, including a spot of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church Finance Committee.
Providing quality service is another key goal for Valley Family Health, said Hart.
“It is important we reflect the community we serve,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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