by Bobby Anderson
A convincing argument can be made that few people have done more for the health and wellbeing of Cleveland County residents than Norman Regional’s Paula Price, RN.
Not only has Price secured millions in funding for public health programs the last few years, she began at the bedside advocating for her patients back in 1975 when she first earned her LPN.
Price credits her parents with guiding her into nursing.
“They thought it would be a great career for me because I liked to help people and was kind, caring and supportive – those were things they always noticed about me,” Price said. “That’s how I started in nursing and ended up realizing after a few years it was a passion for me and that my parents really knew me well.”
And for nearly 20 years now Norman Regional Health System has relied on Price as the Health System’s Director of Health Promotion and Community Relations.
That heart for the community, coupled with her business acumen, led her to be called again to serve on the healthcare front lines.
New Norman Regional Health System President and CEO Richie Splitt recently announced Price would lead the Health System’s efforts as the new Vice President of Strategy and Growth.
“That’s really what we’re focusing on now is keeping patients out of the hospital and keeping them from being re-admitted or helping them prevent the onset of a chronic disease,” Price said, mentioning Oklahoma’s top conditions like cancer, lung disease, heart disease and diabetes.
Price has worn many hats in her career from medical surgical, surgical, and outpatient settings.
She earned her RN in 1990, but there’s always been a next step for Price.
While she always knew how to heal patients in an acute care setting she always wondered what she could do on a larger scale.
Price received a Bachelor’s of Nursing from the University of the State of New York, a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a Master’s of Nursing from Southern Nazarene University
Most recently, Price has served as the Health System’s Director of Health Promotion and Community Relations for the past 19 years.
Her healthcare experience includes nursing, public health, community relations, marketing and communications. During her career she has received numerous recognitions and honors.
She was honored for her work in the wake of the May 20, 2013 tornado with a 2014 Healthcare Marketing IMPACT Award from Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age.
She also received the Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing Silver Salute Award. In 2016, the Norman Chamber of Commerce recognized her with the Women in Leadership award.
She currently serves on the United Way of Norman Board of Directors, and Norman Chamber of Commerce board.
She makes sure she’s out in the community because it’s the best way to reach so many. It’s one of the reasons she spent 10 years on the board of Health for Friends, which was charged with reaching the underserved population without health insurance.
She led the system’s efforts to provide in-kind contributions of x-rays and diagnostic testing and even pharmacy vouchers that for some patients truly meant the difference between life and death.
She’s dove deep into advocacy especially the last 15 years serving as the Chair of Oklahoma Turning Point and securing millions in local funding through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
“One thing about nursing is that I think it’s a very exciting time for nurses because you can really choose your path and choose your career,” Price said. “Now that midlevels are so key in access to healthcare nurses have so many more opportunities and can be a part of this new push of population health.”
And she’s done it while working for one of the few remaining municipal hospitals in Oklahoma.
There’s no corporate bottom line to answer to at the end of the day, only the local patient population that continues to make its approval known by patronizing any of the three health system campuses.
“The challenge of being independent is you really have to manage your resources and capital investment because you have to depend on yourself,” Price said. “We have to be very smart about being efficient and having the quality patient outcomes so we can do everything to maximize our efficiency and the care we provide.”
“We have a wonderful relationship with the community. We have a hometown feel. People know us and they’re comfortable with us. They trust us.”
And Norman Regional trusts Price to lead it into the future.