by Bobby Anderson,
Three weeks before Lara Teague ever started her new role at Integris Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon she set out a suggestion box.
The idea was to get feedback and elicit some basic needs before she ever stepped on the floor as the Director of Medical Surgery/Intermediate Care.
The suggestions came and Teague has gone to work.
“We’ve been whittling away at those,” said Teague, RN. “We were able to answer or rectify all of them but two.”
Outside of a popcorn machine and day shift not wanting to pick up dinner trays, Teague found a way to get the nurses what they wanted in nearly every situation.
It’s just one of the things she’s brought to her new role after transferring from Integris Southwest Medical Center.
“This was a career move but I’m finding that I absolutely love it so it’s exciting,” Teague said. “I got here and I loved the people and the culture.”
At Southwest, Teague was the director for the administrative supervisors, float pool, staffing and patient safety monitors.
At ICVH, she’ll have a smaller number of full time employees but more departments.
Soon, Teague will need to utilize the back of her business card as she adds monitor room and administrative supervisors to her purview.
The monitor room falls under Teague in June followed by supervisors in July.
She can handle it.
Teague is an Integris-lifer. She started at Baptist 23 years ago in the ER. She transferred to Southwest Medical after two years.
“It was like walking home when I walked in the doors at Southwest,” said Teague, who would spend 21 years on the city’s south side before heading to Yukon.
In Yukon, she was warned that things might move at a slower pace than what she was used to at Southwest Medical, which has one of the busiest ED departments in the state.
Her first day on the job the hospital was 100 percent full. The same happened the next four days.
“It has been a great transition,” Teague said. “Of course it’s a learning curve every time you move. You’ve got to learn people but, I don’t know, they’ve got some great bones here. It’s been really fun to get to kind of step in and see some great things and see some things you want to make better.”
“It was kind of time for me to put my money where my mouth was.”
In addition to the new job, Teague is wrapping up her first semester in her master’s program with an emphasis on healthcare administration from Oklahoma State University.
She planned on taking the slow and easy route but, like everything else in healthcare, she’s going fast forward.
“I was on the six-year plan, with summers off, but that’s alright,” she says. “I’m on track to graduate December 2017. Of course, now that I’ve told so many people I can’t flunk or drop out.”
The vision is simple.
“I want staff to be able to know they have more in them than they think, that they can do more than they think,” Teague said. “I want to turn patient satisfaction around. In a small community hospital there’s no reason we should not be in the 95th percentile. We have tremendous support from leadership in staffing.
“Trying to find nurses is a challenge in any area because of the lack of qualified nurses. Med surg is probably one of the hardest to work as far as volume. ICU certainly takes more critical care thinking skills, whereas as a bedside nurse has to think bigger picture on six or seven patients.”
Canadian Valley is truly the community’s hospital and it has that kind of feel from patients to staff.
Teague knows that’s a big responsibility.
“I want to see them shine and be recognized by the numbers for the job they do,” Teague said of her staff. “They want to grow and they want to be challenged.”
The challenge for administrators like Teague is translating the importance of HCAHPS scores into their daily shifts.
“I’m already working on a plan to move our omnicells out to get people away from the nurses desk and move nurses to each end of the hall,” Teague said, going over a list of items she wants to pursue.
If it means it’s better for patient care Teague doesn’t expect much push-back.
Teague said she’s never seen a group of staff more willing to come in to help out than the one she’s inherited.
She saw that first hand when the hospital was at capacity for five days straight and staffing holes started to show.
“Those guys are so awesome. They very easily could just not answer their phone but they don’t want to see their co-workers drown so they do,” Teague said. “My job is easy compared to that.”