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Updated: October 5, 2020 2020 Power 25 — Health Care

Health Power 25: 14. Kurt Barwis

Another of the few independent hospitals remaining in Greater Hartford is Bristol Hospital, where Kurt Barwis has been at the helm as CEO for the past 14 years.

Kurt Barwis, President & CEO, Bristol Health

For the leader of a one-hospital system, Barwis has not shied away from the spotlight. He’s been outspoken, for example, in defending hospital executive salaries and on the challenges of staying independent in an ever-consolidating industry.

Bristol Health, along with several other Connecticut hospitals, was set to be acquired by Texas-based Tenet Healthcare in 2014, but the deal fell apart and Barwis has kept the hospital operating on its own since then. He’s continued to invest in capital projects like a 60,000-square-foot ambulatory care center completed in 2019, and an ongoing $15-million overhaul of its emergency department that began just months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Barwis also has the unenviable bragging rights of being the only hospital CEO in Connecticut known to have tested positive for COVID-19.

The hospital announced his positive test in late March, just days before the federal government reversed position and began recommending widespread use of face masks to prevent transmission of the virus. Barwis’ case was mild, and he was back to work in less than a week.

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