Linda Higgins, RN, at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in northwest Oklahoma City, serves as a translator between OHH management and the Chinese who are learning best practices there.

by Bobby Anderson – Writer/Photographer
Linda Higgins, RN, has been playing a special role at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital where she serves as a translator for a Chinese hospital that is learning the best practices of OHH.
The Chinese are trying to modernize their health care system to bring it up to the modern standards of the 21st Century. Health care in China is 20-30 years behind the U.S., Higgins said
The hospital in China is privately owned and is part of a company with three hospitals there and have broken ground for a fourth hospital in which they want to emulate the OHH management model, she explained.
Higgins is originally from China. There was a huge language barrier before Higgins was asked to help with communications. She also traveled to China with Dr. Harvey of OHH for the breaking ground ceremony of the new hospital there in April of this year.
“China is developed in all the other areas but in general, China’s health care is still kind of behind the international level. Of course the Chinese government a few years ago started making some changes because in China probably 95 percent of the hospitals are state owned.”
The privately owned Chinese hospital working with OHH actually discovered the Oklahoma hospital. The Chinese CEO realized they could not do it on their owned and sought international help. They visited several hospitals 18 months ago.
“They had been looking for partners, especially for management,” she said. “They noticed our employees just looked really happy. Everyone was smiling and relaxed. They didn’t have a chance to really talk to anybody. They just walked around and they could tell.”
They also noticed the families of patients throughout the hallways and could sense a high degree of patient satisfaction.
“They wanted to know the secret of how we do the management and provide care and technology,” she added. “They wanted to instill our management style into their care.”
Each time the Chinese would visit OHH they would send about 14 people, Higgins said. The Chinese CEO came with the second group. And in May, they sent their COO to follow OHH COO Peggy Tipton, RN, for about two weeks along with other top management, Higgins continued.
Higgins has also been part of the OHH management team, so she understands the needs of the Chinese as well as speaks their language.
The Chinese took into consideration the hospital’s design. OHH was designed for quick and easy access to patients by physicians and family members.
“It’s going to be designed by a French architect,” Higgins said, “They will include the basic structure and a lot of our settings.”
Knowing that she is helping to facilitate an international process between two nations for the betterment of mankind, at the end of each day, Higgins is grateful.
“Of course China is always home for me even though I have been living here for 20 years,” she said. “That’s where my root is, so I want to make a difference in this process.”
She said the experience has also challenged her to learn more about the broader scope of OHH. She had never been a translator before, so she had to focus on making sure that both the speaker and listener could understand correctly.
“The most important thing they want to learn from us is our culture,” Higgins said.
The Chinese know that OHH is a top leader in the United States for patient satisfaction. They are impressed that OHH has remained in the top level during its 14 years of operations.
“They want to know how we make our patients happy and how we focus on patient care,” she said.
Higgins has been a registered nurse since 1999 when she graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.
Before she graduated Higgins earned a scholarship at then-Presbyterian Hospital (OU Medical Center) in Oklahoma City and began her career there. She worked at Deaconess Hospital (Alliance Health Deaconess) for a couple of years before the Oklahoma Heart Hospital opened in 2002.
“I always like cardiac service and this hospital is dynamic and really cares about its employees,” Higgins said. “We really focus on patient care. Everything we do here is putting the patients first with patient centered care.”