Mike Miller, EMT-P, left, and Dennis Sturms, EMT-PM, CCP, walk out of the Wayne County Hospital Emergency Room. Both men are part of WCH’s ambulance department and emergency services crew.
WAYNE COUNTY HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES WAX PHILOSOPHICAL ABOUT THEIR DUTIES TO THE INJURED, SICK AND SUFFERING
National Hospital Week is May 11 to May 17. In recognition, Wayne County Hospital’s various departments—from surgery to food service—each provide a brief view of just what they do.
Laboratory Director Karen Richardson, MT, claims that they are more than just people with scary needles. Which is fortunate, because lab work completed behind the scenes provides up to 70 percent of clinical decisions.
Dorothea Dix, who gave 41 years of her life as a nurse in prisons and in the army and as an advocate for the mentally ill, famously said, “If I am cold, they are cold; if I am weary; they are distressed; if I am alone, they are abandoned.” For this reason, Amy Elmore, RN and Case Management Director, chose her career.
“I wanted to make a difference,” Elmore says. “We routinely review insurance regulations for a patient’s admission and coordinate discharge planning to ensure patients have the follow-up care they need. Our roles are becoming more and more important as the healthcare environment in our country changes and becomes more focused on an entire episode of a patient’s care.”
Jeralee McCarty, RN, BSN, the director of the nursing division on the medical/surgical unit, understands the gravity of her position.
“Every patient and family needs a champion nurse, and our nurses are the tie that binds,” McCarty says. “It’s a privilege and honor to do what we do as we walk on sacred ground every day.”
Surgery Director Kevin Tilley, RN, opines upon the variety of surgical procedures offered at WCH:
“Offering this variety allows our community to stay closer to home and family for surgical needs. It also keeps revenue in our own community.”
Jill Henkle, RN and director of the obstetrics department, echoes Tilley concerning the importance of having vital services nearby:
“We are able to provide a much needed service locally. Wayne County Hospital is one of the very few rural hospitals that still deliver babies.
“At WCH, we are able to offer many of the same services available in larger hospitals with the exception of a NICU. The exceptional care provided by the medical providers and nurses make WCH one of the premier rural hospitals for obstetrical care.”
Henkle finds meaning every day in her position, but finds it difficult to describe the level of trust established with her patients and coworkers.
“I get to help bring and experience new lives being born. [I embrace being] a mentor to other nurses that have chosen this specialty.”
Plant Operations Director Brad Willey ensures patients get in the door, shoveling snow in winter, and that they remain safe when they are inside. Sheila Davis greets patients at the front desk or by phone, wading though insurance claims. Her call word is efficiency, but her title is Business Office Director.
Longtime employee Kellie Bunnell, Executive Administrative Assistant, also greets guests and customers, and maintains CEO Daren Relph and the leadership team’s busy schedule.
Julie Rupe, in her sister role as WCH Clinic System Director, says that, “Even though our focus is on keeping our patients well, we all know there are times when hospital admissions are necessary. Even though I’m not a nurse or provider, I love helping people. I feel like I can relate with our patients at a different level, and that we all share the same difficulties, hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families.”
POD Willey also helps prepare the way for ambulances, as directed by Josh Hysell, EMT-PM, and for the specialists that Suzy Stern, RN, brings in from larger areas.
Hysell relishes the crucial role he provides.
“The Wayne County Hospital’s Ambulance Department is a great group of dedicated professionals who have gone through extensive training to provide care in a time of need,” Hysell says. “As a group, we work well together, sacrificing personal lives to care for our communities in Wayne County. It means a great deal to us that we’re an advanced level of care providers, to ensure critical treatment.”
Stern arranges for patients to get care they normally could only receive by traveling great distances:
“We are very fortunate to have this service for our patients and are extremely appreciative to our specialists for their willingness to travel to our clinic.”
The selfless Cody Babbitt, EMT, RN, provides initial treatment as Emergency Department Director.
“Regardless of the time or day, we are always available to serve the people of Wayne County and the surrounding areas,” Babbitt says. “I enjoy working ER because of the atmosphere and wide variety of patients that we see. I am privileged to be part of a patient’s experience when they are often at their sickest.”
In both emergencies and non-emergencies, Environmental Services Director Susan Pyner plays the understated role of hospital caretaker.
“A clean hospital is critical in reducing and/or preventing infections,” Pyner says. “[Our staff] takes pride in what they do, and go home every day knowing they’ve made a positive impact on the lives of our patients.”
While Pyner keeps the hospital as germ-free as possible, Sandy Hopkins, CDM, CFPP, attempts to dispel the myth of hospital food as repellent. She views the cafeteria as a place to relax for staff and family of patients during stressful times.
“We deliver all meals to the patients,” Hopkins says, “It’s important, to us, to help the patients with their recovery.
“We had a patient that was hungry at 10 p.m. one evening. All he wanted was a hot dog and baked beans. I came back to work that evening and prepared and delivered the meal to him. In our department, we will do whatever we can to help our patients, and we enjoy doing it.”
The Food Service Department serves over 10,000 meals every month, and also provides for Magical Beginnings Daycare, Meals on Wheels and the community at large.
As Chief Financial Officer, Denise Hook makes sure all of these people have what the need to do their jobs. She also tries to make healthcare affordable.
“Our personal gratification comes from knowing that we have a key role in maintaining the long-term security of our hospital and clinics, and ensuring the continued employment of our quality employees,” Hook says.
In Laurie Ehrich’s equally dry role as Chief Communications Officer, she finds meaning in the small tasks that benefit WCH and its patients in the long run. She does this by increasing awareness of the hospital’s capabilities and by maintaining sources of funding.
“We deliver value by developing long lasting relationships with the people we serve,” Ehrich says. “Being able to contribute to the essence of WCH is extremely rewarding.”
Director Joan Byrns says simply, “Remember, if you see it in the hospital and/or clinic systems, it has come through the Materials Management Department.”
Byrns is burdened with the duty of providing quality medical equipment that is also cost-effective for patients. Much of what goes on at WCH is a balance between medicine and finance.
Wesley Shanks, as director of the IT department, is the future of healthcare. His knowledge of the hospital’s computer system allows all departments to do their jobs without slowing down. It also engenders a free flow of information from hospital to hospital in the spirit of collaboration.
Shanks’ services help Lee Ann Osier maintain accurate records of medical history. As Health Information Management Director, not only does this make for better diagnosis, it provides freedom of information for WCH’s patients.
“We know what we do is critical to providing outstanding healthcare to our patients,” says Shanks.
Radiology Director Katie Newton praises WCH for buttressing her department with contracted services, keeping patients close to home for treatment. Newton’s department provides diagnostic imaging services that are essential to medical providers.
Director of the Dialysis Unit, Maggie Lindsey, RN, is in a similar situation as Newton, understanding how special it is to provide a specialty service close to home.
“We deal with a disease that has no cure, and often leaves patients feeling stuck with a drastic lifestyle change and the feeling of being depressed,” Lindsey says. “We think of our patients and their family members like they are our own families, and how we would want them to be treated. We give a lot to our patients, but what we get back from the patients and their families is so much more.”
Denise Sheston, RN, also provides a service that patients are fortunate to have local access to, Cardiac Rehabilitation.
“For many years, folks from our community had to drive to other facilities to receive this service,” Sheston says. “We worked hard to reestablish this back at WCH so patients could receive this therapy here at their hometown hospital. I enjoy helping people. Watching them improve and feel better as they progress through their therapy sessions is a wonderful thing.”
There are many such services that must be provided on a regular basis. A shorter drive encourages patients to continue their care, and should not be understated. Often, these patients need various forms of therapy in order to live life to its fullest, including physical, occupational and speech.
“Our goal is to help patients achieve their highest level of functioning, so that they may have independent, productive and satisfying lives,” says Eric Palmer, DPT, Director of Rehabilitation Services.
A common ailment is asthma, and Lisa Reece, RRT, directs the application of respiratory therapy, which includes patients with COPD and emphysema.
“I have been enlightened by how many people actually suffer from asthma, and offering this program has been very rewarding,” Reece says. “To have patients understand and gain control of their asthma, enabling them to manage their illness, is gratifying beyond words.”
When patients are prescribed medication, they go through Pam Chambers and the Pharmacy Department. Chambers says her department is also open to communication with patients seeking alternatives to medication.
“[We] not only dispense medications, but we are also an integral part in the communication loop between providers and patients,” Chambers says.
From surgeon to computer technician, the hospital functions by being allowed to hire skilled employees, ones that can work together in a collaborative environment that, in the modern world, involves other hospitals and doctors from across the globe.
In this light, it is the Human Resources Department that hires all staff at WCH. As Director Dave Carlyle succinctly puts it, “The role of the Human Resources Department is to manage the organizations most effective asset—it’s employees.”