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Jean Hartnett will never forget the time she worked as a certified nursing assistant during her early years of college. 

That’s when the Hubbard, Nebraska-native fell in love with taking care of seniors while learning about the front lines of care.

“I had tasks such as bathing, dressing and toileting patients,” she said. “I learned there was a way to do those while keeping a person's dignity and integrity intact. I realized it was a powerful gift to be able to do it. If I could do it, then perhaps I could teach or model that behavior for other people.”       

Now with more than 15 years of health care administration experience, Hartnett will become the administrator of the Douglas County Health Center on June 19. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners approved her hiring Tuesday. Hartnett will replace James Tourville, who is retiring after 24 years.

“She has the ability to come in and provide a fresh set of eyes and evaluate where improvements can be made,” said Douglas County Administrator Patrick Bloomingdale. “In addition to her extensive experience, her strong reputation in the healthcare industry and her connections within the Omaha community will be invaluable for Douglas County.”

Hartnett most recently worked as the executive director of Esprit Whispering Ridge in Omaha. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s gerontology department and has taught long-term care administration at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Hartnett said she understands public policy and knows how to operationalize legislation affecting seniors.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead a prestigious organization in collaboration with the Board of Commissioners," Hartnett said. "I look forward to honoring the legacy of the Douglas County Health Center while building a bright future for our employees and the residents we serve."      

Hartnett grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and received a master’s degree in health services administration from George Washington University.

She’s the youngest of nine children and enjoys spending time with her family, including her daughter, Sara, and 35 nieces and nephews.