Hardin leads Children’s Hospital in Springs

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Bill Hardin, who is currently one of only two pediatric surgeons in Colorado Springs, has a passion for treating kids and helping families. He performs surgeries at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, and follows up with patients at the Children’s Colorado Outpatient Specialty Care clinic in Briargate.

He has lived in Colorado Springs since 2014, and is the associate chief medical officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado. As CMO for the new free-standing Children’s Hospital adjacent to Memorial Hospital North, set to open in April 2019, Hardin is handling administrative development for the new location as he continues his work in the operating room.

Before working for Children’s Hospital, Hardin served as a professor of surgery and pediatrics in Alabama and in Louisiana.

He spoke with the Business Journal about his devotion to pediatrics and how the new Children’s Hospital will affect Colorado Springs.

Why did you go into pediatric surgery?

Being around kids but also having the parents as part of the treatment. You tend to become much more involved with families. It’s not just the child who’s ill, but rather the family who’s ill. You have to interact with the moms and dads as well as the children. At this point in my life, I am thrilled that I made the decision to do pediatrics. More importantly, I think I’ve had the opportunity to make a difference in a lot of families’ lives.

Can you describe your role as chief medical officer?

My specific role as the chief medical officer here is to represent Children’s Hospital and be involved in the development of the pediatric service line in Colorado Springs. … The half that’s administrative is primarily as chief medical officer here in Colorado Springs and the other half is clinical, which means actively taking care of patients and families.

What impact will Children’s Hospital have on Colorado Springs? 

I think it’s going to change Colorado Springs in some ways. I’ve had a chance to visit lots of children’s hospitals around the country and one that sticks in my mind is the children’s hospital in Little Rock, Ark. … Most of the power brokers in Arkansas are on the board at the children’s hospital in Little Rock and to me it’s a testament to how powerful these hospitals can be. You’ll find that they’re a resource for the schools and a resource for the community at large. There will be representatives from the hospital that will be contributing to the backbone of Colorado Springs.

What will it take for the hospital to be successful? 

Our success is only partially determined by what we do on our end — the remainder is going to come from the community. [We have the responsibility] to connect with the community, … to convince the community that we’re offering something that’s special and should be treasured. [The community has] to figure out ways to help us be successful in optimizing the care for kids here in Colorado Springs. It’s a two-way street.

What challenges face pediatric care in Colorado Springs? 

The one in the community we’ve all recognized — there’s a local problem — is the issue of pediatric suicides. There’s been a cluster of those in the community. I’m very interested in working with the community and with the schools to try and figure out ways to reduce those numbers. We [also] have a very large military population here in Colorado Springs. They have some unique needs.

What advice has helped you the most in your career? 

I have a lot of students, even a lot of beginning surgery residents who will come to me and say, ‘I’d like to go into pediatric [surgery]. What can I do to enhance my ability to do that?’ My answer to them is ‘You have to love general surgery, you have to love being in the operating room, taking care of whatever the problem is. If you don’t love that, if you don’t have the passion for it, you probably will not make it through.’ … I was in school for 16 years after high school and wanted to train to be a pediatric surgeon. It’s hard to keep your focus on the end if you’re not thoroughly loving what you actually do.