Keeler takes over as new CEO of Grand View Hospital
Grand View Hospital CEO Jean Keeler, who has taken over the role of recently retired former CEO Stuart Fine, will go down in the company history books as the first female head of the hospital.
A seven-person search committee was tasked by the hospital board to conduct a national search last June. After reviewing nearly a hundred candidates, the committee got down to three candidates: Keeler and two non-internal male candidates.
“It’s nice when somebody gets promoted internally to any position,” Keeler said. “People need to know that they have the opportunity to move forward in their careers in hospitals. So, I think that was a great message to send out to the staff.”
Keeler was offered the position Tuesday night, Dec. 11, and was told the position started immediately.
“I had no idea,” she said. “I was very surprised and very honored and humbled to get the job.”
Keeler said some of the personality traits needed for this kind of job include being collaborative and a good listener.
“The leader of an organization has to listen and learn every day and make some plans to move forward
and try to do the right thing by the community and for the community,” she said.
An employee of the hospital for around 16 years, Keeler still remembers her first day walking into Grand View Hospital.
“I was really impressed with the strong women I met. They were welcoming and enthusiastic, and I felt really at home when I got here,” she said.
Keeler, a native of Bethlehem and an avid police fiction reader, has a background in law. After being one of the first people in her family to graduate from college, she clerked for a judge in Bucks County and for the county’s DA office, then moved on to Grim, Biehn & Thatcher, a law firm in Perkasie.
“I love Bucks County,” Keeler said. “I drove into Bucks County one day, I think it was a beautiful spring day, and I remember saying to my husband, ‘I really want to practice in this county.’ My husband and I just became a part of the community.”
Keeler became the first female trial lawyer at her law firm and was following in the steps of just a handful of female lawyers who worked in Bucks County.
Keeler said her background in law is incredibly valuable for her job, especially because hospitals are one of the most regulated industries in the country.
“We have so many laws and so many rules and so many legislations,” she said.
In her former position as vice president and general counsel for the hospital, Keeler developed the corporate compliance plan, established the HIPAA privacy plan and oversaw the risk management program, in addition to the legal issues. She said half of her job revolved around operational issues, while the other half was legal issues.
“While I had to put things on my resumé that I accomplished, they were all team efforts,” she said.
Now, one of her new focuses is reaching out to primary care doctors, who don’t usually communicate with the local hospitals.
“I think we’re heading in the direction of the lo- cal hospital being responsible for the wellness in the whole community, which is a really different focus than what we’ve done before. The future is going to be about keeping people out of here and really bringing the sickest people in and having the right people take care of them,” she said.
Keeler said she would like a strong focus on the community. The not-for-profit hospital, after all, is the biggest employer in Bucks County, so many people have a tie to the hospital. Keeler, who brings her own family to the hospital, describes the patients as “our neighbors, our teachers, friends and family.”
“We have great doctors and a fabulous staff,” she said. “We’re really blessed that way. It’s just an excellent hospital, and it has a great community aspect.”
Keeler said it’s “remarkable” to be the first female CEO of the hospital. Her predecessor, Stuart Fine, had served as CEO for 25 years, so there wasn’t a lot of turnover. This is one of the reasons why Keeler thinks a female hadn’t already obtained the position.
“I think it’s odder that I’m a lawyer than the fact that I’m female,” she said.
Mary DeHaven, the hospital’s director of public relations and marketing, said nurses were glad to see a female CEO since Keeler — a mother, wife and daughter herself — would know what it’s like to have to make al- ternate arrangements if a child is sick and home from school, for example.
“She’s focused on what the issue is,” DeHaven said. “And I think that’s the reason why people can kind of forget, ‘Oh, you’re a female in a male-dominated world.’”
At her Catholic grade school, Keeler was told, “vou’re smart. vou can be a nursery school teacher.”
“I thought, ‘Okay, well that’s cool. But that’s all I get to pick from?’” Keeler said.
Keeler laughs, thinking back on the multitude of flowers that perfumed her office like a flower shop when she first got the job as CEO of the hospital.
“What do they send the men? I’d rather have flowers.”
Jean Keeler has been named the new CEO at Grand View Hospital.