To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose, under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) 

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the new year resolving to do better by our world, our communities, our families and ourselves, I want to share some thoughts with you.

It has been my great privilege to work at HUHS over the last 15 years. The time has come, however, for me to step down as your Director at the end of the Academic Year.  I feel so fortunate to have spent the last seven years of my career in this role.  I have been stretched, and challenged, and humbled.  Most of all, I have been inspired to work with such an extraordinary group of caregivers and human beings.  Together, we have tackled some tough problems and supported each other in finding creative solutions.

As I look back, it hardly seems possible that we lived through a two-year construction project without stopping our core business—seeing patients.  While it was an ordeal to go through, now that construction is complete, we can enjoy the wonderful new spaces in the Smith Campus Center.  Good planning and extraordinary patience allowed us to survive the many moves entailed in a long and sometimes frustrating process.  I appreciate all of your contributions that made it possible for us to continue to treat our patients during the construction.

At HUHS, our primary goal is to maximize resources to meet the unique needs of our diverse patient populations.  To that end, we significantly expanded Counseling and Mental Health resources (CAMHS) while mitigating increases to the student health fee by reallocating funds previously supporting the under-utilized Stillman Infirmary. By embracing Lean, we have committed to continuous learning, adopting the principles and disciplined thinking which undergird the Lean management methodology, and to making more data-driven decisions.  When I visit the daily huddles, I see the progression in everyone’s problem-solving capabilities and know that we will only get better over time. While Lean is still being rolled out to all units, we have already adopted many of its driving principles.  

Already we have seen the pay-offs.  We now have a robust safety-reporting system, with a team huddling every day to solve safety problems.  We have a Close-the-Loop process to ensure we get data back on patients who have been seen outside.  We have “Right-Data-Right-Time” ongoing, to ensure that we have the insurance and registration information we need when we need it. I am totally confident that we will continue to provide the best care possible to our patients by paying attention to what we do, not only in the clinical encounter, but also in every other aspect of delivering that service.

We will have plenty of time to talk in the coming months.  I will be walking around, attending your huddles and informally chatting with you in the hallways.  I know that there will be a lot of conversation, and teasing in both directions, before I retire June 30th. I look forward to thanking each of you in person for all you have done for HUHS, and for all that you have done to stretch me as a person.  We have much work to do in the next six months to adjust and improve our services to the Harvard Community. For now, I want to thank you, again, for all that you do for our patients and each other.  I look forward to the transition-- I know that you will not only thrive, but also grow, with new leadership. 

Take good care,

Paul J. Barreira, M.D.
Henry K. Oliver Professor of Hygiene
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services