Former Harrison nurse becomes hospital’s second-in-command

Patty Cochrell’s father always asked her when she was going to become a hospital’s Chief Operations Officer (COO).

Although Malcolm McPhee did not live to see the day his daughter became Harrison Medical Center’s COO and executive vice president, Cochrell knows her dad is proud of her.

Cochrell, of Poulsbo, took on the newly created position of COO and executive vice president in November. The position was created by Harrison President and CEO Scott Bosch with Cochrell in mind.

“It became obvious to Scott that he couldn’t do both, so he wanted someone who was well respected,” Cochrell said.

Cochrell has been a nurse for more than 30 years and joined Harrison Medical Center in 1978 as a critical care nurse. After 19 years at Harrison, she joined a national consulting firm and traveled the country visiting hospitals.

“What I loved about that work was to go into organizations and see how they tick, see how they function,” Cochrell said. “In that nine years, I really had the opportunity to see how other hospitals deal with things.”

Cochrell returned to Harrison in 2005 and became the chief nursing officer for the hospital.

Cochrell said it is unusual for a clinician to be promoted to a position such as COO, but her numerous years of experience working with patients and other clinicians puts her at an advantage.

“I have the working knowledge of being a clinician,” she said. “I understand the process and systems that have been problematic in the past and it gives me an advantage to know them intimately.”

In her new role, Cochrell is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Harrison. She frequently walks around the Bremerton hospital, visiting medical staff and patients to gather feedback about Harrison’s performance.

“So much of leadership has to do with visibility and I’m a very visible leader. So I’m not just being fed information, I’m seeing it, I’m hearing it,” Cochrell said. “It’s my role now, as the COO, to ensure that our operations are really enhancing that patient experience.”

Cochrell said she strives to enhance the systems in place throughout Harrison Medical Center’s campuses to ensure the hospital staff in every department is on the same page and patients receive the best care possible.

“I truly believe that it’s the systems that get in the way of us doing a good job and it’s wonderful for me to get in there and work on the systems,” Cochrell said. “My goal over the next couple years is to dig down deep in every department from the patient’s perspective.”

Cochrell said the “human connection” is what drove her into the healthcare field more than 30 years ago. She said Kitsap County residents do not need to go to Tacoma or Seattle to receive great medical care because Harrison Medical Center is just minutes away.

“We’re a community hospital that’s here for the community,” Cochrell said. “I’m pretty proud to be working for an organization that really values that relationship with the community.”

Bosch said Cochrell’s experience as a nurse and as a consultant for more than 50 hospitals nationwide will help Harrison Medical Center grow and take the facility “from good to great.”

“Patty brings an unparalleled understanding of the bedside caregiver’s perspective as well as a national view of healthcare that will further guide us on our journey from good to great,” Bosch stated in a news release. “Her progressive leadership will continue to propel us to a higher level of healthcare excellence.”

Cochrell has been serving as both COO and chief nursing officer since November, but Harrison recently hired a new chief nursing officer who will begin later this month. Cochrell said she is looking forward to focusing all of her time and energy of her duties as COO and improving patient care at Harrison Medical Center.

“It’s kind of a daunting responsibility, but I’m up for the challenge,” she said.

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