December 11, 2018

Jackie Medland: Yes, Highlands-Cashiers Community, There Is a Santa Claus

By Jackie Medland
President/CNO, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital

Most of us are familiar with the line “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” It’s the memorable statement in the New York Sun’s thoughtful reply to a little girl having peer-induced doubts about whether Kris Kringle was real, way back in 1897. But “real” isn’t always people and things; it’s often powered by intangibles like good intentions, ingenuity and caring.

Our community’s Christmas spirit comes in the form of all of you – our community – and all of our team members who commit their lives in service to the Highlands-Cashiers community. This indomitable spirit is in reality deep investment in the success of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH), the Eckerd Living Center (ELC) and our affiliated practices.

The keys to this spirit are unquestionably our nurses, doctors, therapists and assistants who care for our patients and families, our Board members who help to steer us toward a sustainable future, our volunteers who bring joy and companionship to our patients, our generous donors who give so unselfishly, our food service workers who nourish us, and our housekeeping and facilities staff who keep our workplace clean and in tip-top shape.

Beyond the “global” gratitude I have for those who make our hospital, the ELC and our practices extraordinary, I’d like to specifically thank individuals, whose everyday actions and ideas have improved the care experience for patients and families, and the work environment for our team members:

  • We now have soothing classical and jazz music in our outpatient reception area, thanks to our registration area receptionist Nicole Barnes.
  • Because of Delores Jones and Valerie Brock (our acute care CNAs), our shower stalls now have lower floor thresholds, which makes entering and exiting the stalls easier for our patients.
  • Our emergency department is now equipped with a new recliners because of Environmental Services (EVS) team member Tom Paquette. He wanted ED patients who need it to have seating that offers a comfortable place to rest their heads as they wait for treatment.
  • EVS staff members Karen Cragg and Betty-Lou Hernlen noticed that the garbage canister wheels made an unsettling racket when they were moved throughout the hospital corridors. Their ingenuity led to replacing those wheels and now the environment is quieter and less disruptive.
  • Thanks to emergency department technician Melody Hatchett, improved signage directs ED patients not to eat or drink before seeing an ED doctor. Patient Registration team member Tonya Sullivan suggested signs for patients and families in the ED that explain how patients are seen based on acuity (the seriousness/urgency of their condition), so there’s no mystery about wait times.
  • Rhonda Oakley, from the Department of Philanthropy, suggested umbrella slips for visitors on those rainy days on the Plateau.

These thoughtful “ideas-made-real” prove that our team members put the patient front and center as they develop ways to improve care and services. Our community – both within our facilities and at-large – proves that innovation doesn’t just reside in the newest MRI machine or an advanced telehealth application. It’s in the hearts of our team members. Their warm spirits and innovative imaginations make HCH, the ELC and our practices true places of caring, and our community stronger and healthier. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Medland, PhD, RN, has been the President and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital for the past 19 months. Jackie has enjoyed a career as a healthcare leader for over 30 years, including positions in direct patient care, advanced practice nursing, nursing management and hospital administration. Based in the Chicago-metro area for most of her career, Jackie served in both academic and rural settings. Prior to her arrival at Mission Health, Jackie was the Regional Chief Nurse Executive for Presence St. Mary’s Hospital and Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, the flagship hospital for the largest Catholic healthcare system in Illinois, recently accredited by ANCC as a Magnet organization under her leadership.

In addition to her extensive background in hospital operations, Jackie owned and operated a healthcare consulting practice, and served as clinical faculty at the University of Illinois, College of Nursing.

Jackie is uniquely prepared in change management having received her PhD in Organization Development from Benedictine University. Jackie’s unique leadership and mentorship was recognized by the University of Illinois, College of Nursing with the Sage Award.

To learn more about Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, visit