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CHAPTER 12:
BUILDING A STAFF
Almost as soon as ground was broken, the board turned to the matter of staffing.

Dick Munger, Ery Parent, John Hale, and Drs. Lindsay Gould and Reuben Nelson were the selection committee that interviewed candidates for hospital administrator. Of 35 people who applied for the job, the committee interviewed four and recommended Justin Greene, a 33-year-old University of British Columbia graduate who was then administrator of West Shoshone Memorial Hospital in Kellogg, Idaho.

Dr. Gould noted that Mr. Greene had a "sense of humor," but he had something else as well, a way of making people feel like they were part of a family. Again and again, early employees of the hospital tell of a special feeling about working for Northwest Hospital, and they credit Mr. Greene with providing the foundation for it.

Harry Bentz, manager of food services until he retired in 1987, would later recall his first encounter with Justin Greene.

Mr. Bentz was an employee of Szabo, the company handling the hospital's food services. He had arrived at Northwest on a Monday morning in 1967. On Tuesday, Mr. Greene called him into his office.

"I met Justin for the first time," Mr. Bentz said, "and was there for only maybe six or seven minutes, no longer than that, and I told him my history. Then he said, 'Do you know why you're here?' and I said, 'Because Szabo told me to be here!' He said, 'You came here because you're the best man, not just in Seattle, but in the whole state to run this food service,' and he went on and on. And [I thought], he doesn't know what he's talking about! But when he got through, if he'd have said, 'Now you go right out through that wall, and [if] there isn't a door there, you make one,' I would have tried.

"He made everybody feel like they were the most important person in the hospital. I only worked for him a couple of years, but I've never had anybody in that short a period of time affect me the way that he did. Back in those days it was hard times to pay bills, but Justin always was positive — 'We can do anything we want to."

The dynamic Mr. Greene was hired on October 10, 1959 by action of the board. Joe Hiddleston, whom Mr. Givan praised for his "untiring work on behalf of the overall planning" of the hospital, would remain on the payroll until January 15, 1960.

Next came the medical staff. The executive committee decided in February 1960, that Northwest Memorial Hospital would "recruit and receive applicants from all parts of the greater Seattle area" and appointed a temporary selection committee consisting of the four physicians on the board (Drs. Gould, Reuben Nelson, O.A. Nelson, and Koutsky), the chairman and president of the association (Charles Horowitz and Harry Givan), and three other doctors these first two groups selected, who would turn out to be Dr. Frank Wanamaker, Dr. O.H. Christoferson, and Dr. Quinn DeMarsh, all past presidents of the King County Medical Association.

These men began the arduous task of selecting hospital department heads and staff physicians. They decided that all staff would be placed in the same category for a year, until a permanent credentials committee could gauge their interests and abilities. Meanwhile, Dr. Koutsky wrote and re-wrote the medical by-laws. "I wrote so many by-laws I went crazy!" he said.

In June, the credentials committee elected, and the board later approved, the hospital's chiefs of service:
      
  • Chief of Staff
  •       Lindsay Gould, M.D.
  • Assistant Chief of Staff
  • Harry Kretzler, Sr., M.D.
  • Chief of Surgery
  • Joseph Koutsky, M.D.
  • Chief of E.N.T
  • Carl Maas, M.D.
  • Chief of Orthopedics
  • Einar Hendriksen, M.D.
  • Chief of Internal Medicine
  • Adrian Foe, M.D.
  • Chief of Pediatrics
  • Ward B. Chesley, M.D.
  • Chief of General Practice
  • Carl Mudge, M.D.
  • Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reuben Nelson, M.D.

    Dr. Gould wrote in his diary, "I am humbly honored but, had I not known these men, I would have been concerned with the wisdom of their choice."

    The hospital staff included Dr. Arnold Stevens, head of the X-ray department; Dr. W. Lovell, head of the pathology department; Dawn Zimmerman, hospital pharmacist; Wyn Hutton, RN, operating room supervisor; Elizabeth Byerly, director of nursing; Marion Metz, chief medical record librarian; and Walter Wilhelm, tabulating and IBM supervisor.

    The first meeting of the medical staff was held on August 16, 1960, at 7:30 p.m. in the hospital basement. There were 90 people there, according to Dr. Gould's diaries, including Messrs. Givan, Horowitz, and Easter. Dr. Gould made these remarks:

    Gentlemen: You are attending the birth of a new hospital. Perhaps the gestation period was a bit prolonged. But for so many of you who have contributed time or money or both, and for all of you who have contributed faith, we hope this physical plant justifies the long wait.

    This project is perhaps unique in many ways. But here are two items worth very brief scrutiny. The first is that it started from zero — less than zero in fact as at one time in the beginning you all were somewhat more than $25,000 in debt! Due primarily to the determination and faith of one physician, Dr. Reuben Nelson, and to the ability and tenacity of one businessman, Mr. Harry Givan, you have now your completed building.

    The second item is that this hospital owns some 35 acres of land — in the right place. This means freedom to grow and to become strong and useful. This first small unit of 108 beds is potentially the beginning of an extensive medical facility.

    Your Northwest Hospital has been built for one intent: to provide, nonprofit, a good workshop to help you care for the sick or injured (of any creed or nationality). Without question one will find errors in the size, shape or arrangement of the rooms, in the equipment, in the utility facilities, in the color scheme and so on. But if you, as responsible staff members on a community team, will be tolerantly thoughtful of the time and effort your hospital board of directors, architects, builders and administrators have applied to this project, perhaps the errors will be forgiven. Be that as it may the physical assets or liabilities of a hospital are not what make it a good hospital or a bad hospital. It is the moral and intellectual integrity of the staff physicians that almost wholly determines the status of a hospital in that respect. Northwest should therefore be not just a good hospital but an excellent one.

    Now a matter that may concern some of you should be clarified. In the medical by-laws provision has been made for the election of the chiefs of service by the members of each department and for the election of a chief of staff by the entire active staff However, your board of directors believed the wise course to take in the initial operation of the hospital was to appoint these officers. In about a year (or I sincerely hope less) you gentlemen will elect your chief of staff and department heads. In the meantime the job at hand will be done by ... men whom most of you know and respect and like ... As to the appointment of myself I have no delusion that it is other than a sort of honorary degree. It does not necessarily predicate ability, great wisdom or leadership or even good sense! However I am deeply and humbly grateful for the trust implied.

    The name of the hospital had been changed to the shorter Northwest Hospital just a month before. The hospital would open just a month later.

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