National Hospital Week (May 9-15, 2021) serves as an important opportunity to highlight our hospitals, health systems, and health care workers and the innovative ways they support the needs of their communities.
Before serving in my current position as Vice President of Operations for Wapiti, I began my career at a trauma one hospital working in obstetrics, women’s surgical, NICU, and pediatrics as a Patient Care Tech II before transitioning to a critical access hospital in my hometown. This practice was the home to a handful of dedicated family practice providers serving the facility and community. I was blessed with the opportunity to learn many positions to fully understand the inner workings of a Critical Access Hospital and the privilege to serve as Clinic Manager. During this journey, I also had the opportunity to work as Clinic Manager with an internal medicine practice that focused on women’s health and mental health. This practice was built utilizing established providers creating a new patient base from the ground up and serves to care for the whole female- mind and body through life events. After that, I shifted to a larger critical access hospital within the same health system in a neighboring state in the role of Director of Clinic and Ancillary Services. This practice was home to a large group of family practice providers, specialty providers (General Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, OB/GYN), and a CRNA team providing care to a service area of 10,000 patients.
My career path has provided the gifts to be well-versed in many aspects of the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities ranging from patient appointment scheduling, payer and facility credentialing, billing, transcription, quality programs, responsibility for ER/Clinic/Inpatient/CRNA/Surgery/OB/Specialty provider call schedules, EMR implementation, trauma/stroke designation requirements, budgetary obligations, provider recruitment, Studer & LEAN concepts, facility expansion, and construction projects. When working in healthcare, particularly in rural critical access areas, you quickly learn that each individual must wear many hats – and nothing, no task or need, should be beneath anyone. Meet patients in the place they are, serve the need in front of you, no matter how significant or insignificant. I once adopted an elderly patient’s dog. The patient was refusing the inpatient care needed because his companion would be left alone. So I brought his dog home to my family to care for. I have also cared for providers’ sick children so they could finish OR cases or not have to reschedule a full day of patient appointments. There are many wheels in motion behind the scenes to always ensure the patient receives the care they deserve.
During my years in healthcare administration, I have witnessed firsthand the vital role that healthcare facilities serve, particularly in rural communities. Rural hospitals represent more than half of all hospitals in the United States. They provide essential access to inpatient, outpatient, and emergency medical services in rural communities. These communities would suffer if the small facility weren’t there, people caring for their friends/neighbors in their time of need. I have been blessed to see the successes of these facilities, but I have seen the struggles, too.
RURAL HEALTHCARE STRUGGLES
Rural facilities frequently struggle with provider coverage. The healthcare providers are so very dedicated, and their care for patients goes beyond clinical. But let’s be honest, residing in a rural area isn’t for everyone. When there are options for providers to work in metro areas with fewer call responsibilities, it can be a challenge to bring providers to a rural community. In the end, the provider and their family have to want and enjoy the rural lifestyle. It is a rewarding commitment.
There are also struggles with the ever-changing quality program requirements, fitting these into the flow of patient care while adding value to the patient visit and meeting metrics. Financial struggles can wreak havoc as well, due to patient payor mix, changes in legislation, requirements to ensure proper reimbursement, and simply the cost of operating a healthcare facility.
RURAL HEALTHCARE SUCCESSES
While wading through the struggles of rural healthcare can be daunting, those challenges are overshadowed by witnessing the accomplishments. There are few things more satisfying than the privilege to know and understand the top-notch care that is available to patients right in their community. Rural doesn’t mean outdated. Rural facilities have some of the latest and greatest equipment, services, technology, and capabilities within their scope to offer patients. The staff must be well-rounded to serve in whatever capacity is needed. Again, the need to be versatile and maintain a full scope of skills is what makes the staff so very valuable.
WAPITI FACILITY PARTNERSHIPS
During my 20 years working with the healthcare system, I utilized Wapiti’s services and was able to personally experience the value of what Wapiti has to offer. Things come full circle when you need to utilize the services yourself, or the Wapiti provider is the only provider covering a practice for the day due to unexpected staffing situations.
In my current role at Wapiti, I work directly with Wapiti partner facilities and have witnessed the strength of these partnerships – feeling a genuine level of trust and appreciation, knowing that together we made a difference. Navigating through challenging situations together with integrity, always keeping the patient at the center of the conversation. Wapiti’s internal staff truly care about the community and providers we partner with, as if it were us or our own family seeking care at the facility. Ensuring 24/7 provider staffing is hard, and life situations for providers happen. But we are in this together and want more than anything to be your one call, providing a consultative approach to know the voice on the other end of the phone or email understands and is here to serve.
It is our goal that the Wapiti providers integrate into a facility and support the facility initiatives. A patient would never know that it was a Wapiti provider they saw that day, and that means our goal was met. Wapiti staff and providers enjoy feeling a part of the facility team, as a partnership.
Most staff at Wapiti view their role as more than just a job. The purpose Wapiti serves speaks to the ability to have a meaningful impact in a small community. Most of our friends/neighbors/family will not truly understand what we do. Communities we may or may not have ever visited and people we may have never met will be cared for in their time of need because of what we do. Many patients will never know the servant work done to make this all happen. We have the privilege of knowing the only part that matters is doing the right thing to care for others. This is honorable work.
On behalf of all of us at Wapiti Medical Staffing, thank you to all staff of the hospitals and healthcare systems who support patients and our communities!
Put Wapiti to Work for You
If you need top-tier healthcare providers for your facility, reach out to Wapiti Medical Staffing today.