Meet Our New Chief Operating Officer, Jim Avrett

In September, Greater Seacoast Community Health welcomed a new Chief Operating Officer, Jim Avrett. Jim’s entire career has been in health care, with a focus on operations process and performance improvement as well as quality and reliability improvement.

Jim’s previous employers include the two largest not-for-profit health-care alliances in the country and a large public health system that had full clinical and financial responsibility for the region’s indigent population. He has also worked as a consultant on projects such as improving processes and throughput in physicians’ offices, clinics, and urgent care centers.

Jim has a degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Alabama and an MBA from the University of South Florida. He and his wife, Mary, have lived in Dover since 2001, when they moved from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with their daughters, Taylor and Grace.

Why did you want this job?

I think of this job as a “get to…” job, not a “got to…” job.  I consider it a privilege that I “get to” work for Greater Seacoast Community Health and with all our wonderful team members at all our sites. I got into health care because I wanted to help improve people’s health and well-being, and in my roles to date I believe I have done that. However, I wanted to get closer to people in need and have a more direct impact on their lives. I also wanted to have a more direct impact in the local Seacoast community. This job will enable me to accomplish those personal and professional goals.

What are your major responsibilities as COO?

Working with our CEO, Janet, the rest of the leadership team and the board of directors, I help shape strategies to accomplish our goals.  Then I work with our teams, particularly our clinical teams, to ensure that what we do day-to-day aligns these strategies and with our mission. This requires that I simultaneously have an eye on the big picture and longer-term goals of Greater Seacoast Community Health while being able to dive into day-to-day operations where needed to keep us on track.

While I have specific responsibilities for several clinical operations areas, I also work to make sure all our offerings are integrated across all our service lines and sites.

What are the first problems you plan to address or systems you would like to improve?

I think we are all keenly aware that staff recruitment and retention are a challenge for us, as they are all across health care. I also want to help further improve communication across our organization.

What are your ideas for improving recruitment and retention?

Our human resources team, working with our managers, is spearheading efforts in both recruitment and retention. I will support those efforts in any way I can. I will also help by reviewing our clinical processes and workflows with our teams. Many of us have heard the phrase, ‘work smarter, not harder.’ Well, from what I’ve seen, we seem to be working pretty ‘smart’ already.  What I’d like to focus on is finding ways to work more creatively and flexibly — possibly to be able to shift some responsibilities quickly based on the number of staff we have at each site in each role each day. I’ve had success with this at other organizations, and staff actually found this flexibility more fun and professionally rewarding.

And what about improving communication?

Many of us are already working on this.  I think becoming even better at getting information flowing up and down as well as across our organization will help us make the best-informed decisions possible.  It should also enable us to accomplish our goals and implement new strategies more quickly and more successfully.

How do you approach working with staff?

I believe we have a great team here and that to be successful you recruit great talent, give them the tools and training they need, give them clear guidelines on what is expected of them and what they have the authority to do, then let them go and do great work. After that, a lot of my job should be to eliminate  any obstacles as best as I can and provide clarification and guidance as needed so people can keep working to accomplish our goals.

What kind of questions or issues or ideas should employees or supervisors bring to you?

The short answer is anything you want to make me aware of — in particular if you don’t believe it is in your scope of authority to resolve on your own (though I have a lot of confidence in our employees to creatively solve challenges themselves and with their team) —  or if you would just like someone to bounce your thinking off of.

Certainly I’m interested in ideas you may have regarding possible process improvements, ways to improve quality and safety, ways to increase the effectiveness of communications, ways to increase our customer service, and ways we can make working at GSCH even more rewarding for our employees.

How do you like people to contact you?

Hopefully, people will see me around in their workspace so they can just walk up to me and start a conversation. I know that won’t always be practical, as busy as we all are, so people should feel free to email me at javrett@goodwinch.org or call me in my office at 603.994.6347 (direct line from outside the organization) or at extension 2347 (internally).

What else would you like staff to know about you?

Well, if you want to engage me in a long (and I mean it could be painfully long for you) conversation, bring up the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team. Yeah, I’m one of those nutty fans.  The other topic would be music.

Besides that, I’d just like everyone to know how thrilled I am to be part of our team. In my short time here I’ve already seen so many people do things that have made me so proud to be a part of our organization. I’ll say it again: This is a ‘get-to’ job for me, not a ‘got-to’ job. And it is clear that so many of us have that same drive to serve our patients and community. I’ve said this to my family and friends, “I think this will be the best hard job I’ve ever had!”