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5 questions with Janet Hamous

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at 12 a.m.

For Janet Hamous, becoming the interim executive director of the Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care was a matter of good timing.

“It happened to work out perfectly,” said Hamous, who had been taking a break from work to help care for her grandchildren. She had just decided to work again when she received a call from the chairman of the board about the position.

Hamous replaced Ron Whiting, who stepped down as executive director in September. Hamous has a month-to-month contract until a national search is concluded.

Prior to joining the coalition, Hamous spent more than 20 years in various roles at Wesley Medical Center, including the position of vice president of human resources. She also has worked as director of human resources for the Via Christi regional network and interim vice president for human resources at Via Christi Health System. She also served as vice president of human resources at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.

Outside the office, Hamous enjoys fiber arts and is a member of the Wichita Weavers, Spinners and Dyers’ Guild. She also enjoys history and restoration: She and her husband restored a Victorian house.

Question: Why is the coalition important for Wichita?

Answer: Our primary reason for being here is employers, because employers are holding the bag for much of the health care costs but historically, they really haven’t had much understanding or say in how those health care dollars were spent.

Health care is an unusual industry in that the people who are receiving the services often aren’t the ones paying for the services. Employers, because they provide insurance, are paying for those services. … So employers who see their costs rise every year for the health insurance for their employees need to have a voice in all this.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges for the coalition?

A: The challenge going forward with this organization is to dig deeper on some of the tougher issues. We have a triple aim in this organization: better health, better care and lower cost. And we’ve done quite a bit on the better health side, and that isn’t really as controversial as better care and other things. We have a lot of work yet to do in working together and making inroads on the more challenging side of this. …

Every stakeholder comes at this from a different position. Everyone brings their own background and needs and position of their organization. Sometimes not everyone agrees on how we figure out how to work together to better the health of our community.

Q: Have you seen an increase in member growth over the last few years?

A: It started out in 2008 and we’ve grown to over 50 members since that time. We’ve moved to a committee structure. We have a membership committee that is taking a look at how can we go about increasing that membership, and I think there are some opportunities for getting organizations involved that haven’t been involved before, more small organizations and organizations that have a slightly different voice.

Q: What are some of the goals for the coalition?

A: Some of the things that our employer members are interested in is having access to data and analysis of data so we really know where the issues are. … Another thing is the whole issues of quality. There are many organizations reporting on quality but there’s not a general agreement on what are the meaningful measures.

Another area I see as one of the biggest challenges is price and cost transparency. We are in an area of the U.S. where we have very limited knowledge of what costs are, so it’s very difficult for a consumer to make a decision.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges as an interim executive director?

A: It is a different role because you don’t get to see the end result of the work that you do, but that’s the nature of the role. In an interim role, it is trying to keep things afloat and trying to keep things moving forward because I think there’s a tendency for any organization in a transition period to kind of put everything on hold, “Let’s just wait.”

But there’s so much going on in health care right now that we can’t really afford to do that.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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