Of mission and values
Barker helped guide merger creating Indiana system, backed focus on ethics
Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s life is about faith and fairness. She has worked steadfastly to infuse those values into her roles as a hospital trustee and a judge for the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, a position she has held since 1984.
Barker, 67, joined the board of Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, in 1988. She then served on a task force that negotiated a merger between Methodist and Indiana University Hospital System in 1997. Since then, she has been a board member of the merged system, which was called Clarian Health until January when the Indianapolis-based system changed its name to Indiana University Health.
Why healthcare? “I just thought it would give me a broader sense of how the world works,” Barker says, aiding her judicial decisionmaking. In addition, Barker says she also believed it was “incumbent” on her as a faithful Methodist to accept the church’s request that she serve on the hospital board.
For her accomplishments, Barker has been selected as the 2011 Trustee of the Year representing not-for-profit healthcare systems.
During the merger negotiations that led to what is now Indiana University Health, Barker insisted that the new system’s board of directors not only include a Values, Ethics, Social Responsibility and Pastoral Services Committee, but that it be on “equal footing” with other board committees.
“I was frequent spokesperson for the view that we have to be doing this (a merger) for good reasons—not just economic reasons. It has to be broader than that; deeper than that,” Barker recalls. The committee, which Barker has chaired since its inception, oversees human resources, community outreach, ethical issues in clinical practice and pastoral services.
In addition to the committee, Indiana University Health also has a senior vice president for values, ethics, social responsibility and pastoral