May 16, 2018

Carol Wolfenbarger: Celebrating Hospitals and Nurses in May

By Carol Wolfenbarger
President, Mission Hospital McDowell

I’m delighted that moving to our new “home” – Mission Hospital McDowell (MHM) – comes at a time when we were preparing to celebrate our nurses and our hospital. May 6-12 was both National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week. As we work amidst change and help our patients and families learn their way around our new facility, I encourage everyone in our community to reflect on the significant role that health care team members play in creating a healing environment for our patients. At the same time, I want to recognize the varied and challenging work that our nurses perform in every level of healthcare, from bedside to boardroom.

Before I talk further about those we’re recognizing this month, I have some facility news to share. We’re making great strides with the demolition of our former facility, and project debris is quickly being hauled away. This will make way for the creation of our new and far more conveniently-situated parking area. We appreciate your patience as you use the temporary parking area. As you do so, please know that we offer shuttle service from the parking area to the hospital for your convenience, and volunteers and staff remain ready to help with any wayfinding needs.

Healthcare has changed dramatically over the last several decades, but nurses remain pivotal to patient safety and hospital success. A 2010 study of nursing entitled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health was published through a partnership between the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It analyzed nurses’ work in a rapidly transforming healthcare industry. The report’s recommendations touched upon nursing education, increasing diversity in the field, addressing the nursing shortage, and ensuring that nurses are present at every level in healthcare – from providing patient care and serving in administration to shaping public policy. MHM employs a total of 125 RNs, 23 of whom are specialty-certified in areas such as medical-surgical, operating room, and emergency nursing. They’re also highly trained: 25 percent earned Bachelor of Science degrees, while 6 percent are Masters-prepared.

I see our RNs juggle clinical responsibilities, work in teams to make the best decisions for their patients, and compassionately deliver world-class care every day. I couldn’t be prouder. Nurses also serve in important leadership positions throughout Mission Health as well. I and all my fellow member hospital Presidents are all RNs by background, and it’s that special calling that continues to guide our work. We’re happy to celebrate National Nurses Week by highlighting the many roles our nurses play in patient care.

That said, no one in healthcare works in isolation. Every team member, from our dietary services staff to our physicians and nurse practitioners to members of our housekeeping staff, ensures that our patients receive extraordinary care that’s not just clinically excellent, but delivered with warmth and soul. Our community members serve our patients, and are our patients. Each positive patient experience at MHM results from the joint efforts of our phenomenal team members: volunteers, facilities staff, laboratory staff, therapists, imaging staff, administrators, and many more – we applaud the entire care team during National Hospital Week.

I’m humbled daily as I walk through MHM and watch our extraordinary professionals in action. Our outstanding team members prove that the most advanced technology and up-to-the-minute clinical knowledge go from “good” to “great” when accompanied by a warm smile, a gentle touch, and a listening ear.

Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE, is President of Mission Hospital McDowell. She holds both Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in nursing administration from the University of Tennessee, is board certified in Healthcare Management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Carol, who has served hospitals and health systems for more than three decades, has worked to add full-time cardiology services, led growth in outpatient services including imaging and surgery, and the expansion of primary care offering in Burke County since assuming her role as President at McDowell Hospital in 2015. She is an active member in Rotary and serves as a Board member for the Rutherford/Polk/McDowell Health District Board of Directors, the Corpening YMCA Board of Directors, and the McDowell County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

To learn more about Mission Hospital McDowell, visit