Russ Harrington, the long-time CEO of Little Rock-based Baptist Health System, will retire July 1 and be succeeded by Troy Wells, who currently holds the title of senior vice president of administrative services for the health care organization.
Baptist Health made the announcement on Monday (March 3). Harrington will retire after 40 years of service to the company.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.