Barbara T. Hartnett, 64, of Jenkintown, a vice president at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health who helped direct the strategic development of the hospital, died Sunday, Dec. 11, of cancer at home.
Starting as a nurse, Mrs. Hartnett had a three-decade career at the former Abington Memorial Hospital, where she was committed to the well-being of patients, especially those lacking adequate health insurance.
"If you had a conversation with her at the dinner table, she never proselytized her views, so you might miss it," said her brother, Ed Tobin. "She wouldn't just talk about helping others; she'd just go in and do it."
She had many roles, from running the emergency room and radiology department, to overseeing the patient clinics, to working closely with the physician leaders.
Mrs. Hartnett was held in such high esteem that the hospital has decided to change the name of Ambulatory Services, a clinic at the hospital, to Hartnett Health Services.
Known for her boundless energy, Mrs. Hartnett trained as a nurse at Villanova University and earned a master of business administration degree from Temple University in 1993.
She was certified as a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
She briefly worked at a hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., before moving to the West Coast in 1979. There, she became a charge nurse in the emergency department at St. John's Hospital and Health Center, Santa Monica.
It so happened that Steven Spielberg was filming the science-fiction movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at the time. Spielberg, who liked to use real-life extras in his movies, asked St. John's to provide a medical team. Mrs. Hartnett was one of the volunteers.
She played a nurse in the scene in which medical workers try to revive the alien, as its life energy appears to flicker and go out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEl-59jHqHA
"You can see Barb at :23 to :24 seconds [in the YouTube clip]. She's the nurse without the cap who yells, 'More drugs!' " said Linda Millevoi, Abington Hospital spokeswoman.
In 1983, Mrs. Hartnett moved to the East Coast. She became nurse director at Abington and, in 2000, director of radiology and ambulatory services.
Beginning in 2005, when she was named vice president of physician services, Mrs. Hartnett took on planning for, and oversight of, the hospital's 240 physicians and 450 non-physicians at 65 area locations.
When Abington Memorial Hospital merged with the Jefferson Health system in May 2015 to form Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, Mrs. Hartnett also began collaborating with Jefferson leadership teams.
Born in Teaneck, N.J., she grew up in Cazenovia, a town outside Syracuse, where her family operated a small historic inn. She helped her parents with the business.
She graduated from the Convent School in Syracuse.
In 1977, she married John F. Hartnett. The couple had two children.
Besides her brother and husband, she is survived by children Kelly and Jack, a sister, and many nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass was celebrated Thursday, Dec. 15. Interment was private.
Contributions may be made to Hartnett Health Services, c/o Abington Health Foundation via https://give.abingtonhealth.org/donate-now#.WE7JIJJNG