by Bobby Anderson, RN, Staff Writer
The bigger picture has always drawn Teresa Gray, RN.
For years she absolutely adored bedside nursing, but catching glimpses here and there, she understood she could make an impact on a much greater scale.
It was that insight and understanding matched with clinical excellence and an ability to relate to just about everyone that has earned her the title of president of Integris Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon.
“Nursing has been my passion and what I love but I also love that bigger picture, it’s one of the reasons I’ve been in management so long,” said Gray, an LPN and then RN for the better part of 24 years. “I really like to know what else is impacted, what else happens – what’s the rest of it.”
Gray fills the role vacated by Rex Van Meter, who was named president of Integris Deaconess.
After officially acquiring Deaconess Hospital Oct. 1, the hospital is considered a campus under the Integris Baptist Medical Center umbrella.
“I hope my nursing background gives me a different perspective as a president to see things a little differently,” Gray said. “I hope to blend both worlds and see things a little differently.”
Gray takes the reigns of a facility that has become a leading provider to much of Western Oklahoma.
“The culture, the community and how everyone works together like a family unit,” Gray said of what initially drew her and has kept her at Canadian Valley. “I remember the first day I had my very first interview walking down this long hallway and everyone smiling and greeting me. That’s something you don’t feel everywhere you go. It’s a feeling.”
Church functions, ball games, local events – all bind ICVH employees to the local community they serve.
Gray has always been keenly focused on quality. Through the Oklahoma Quality Foundation, Gray has gone into facilities across Oklahoma on site surveys to see whether or not organizations are living up to quality standards.
It’s a focus she’s carried with her during her tenure, which has been one, long preparation for where she’s at now.
“Integris has a very robust succession planning program,” Gray explained. I’ve been on the succession play for about four years, being mentored by Rex Van Meter and going through the process to be ready to take such a position.
“It’s been a long time planning. When Rex had his opportunity they approached me and felt like I was ready to take over the operations of the hospital and be a leader.”
Van Meter has been a part of executive leadership at Integris since 2001. He joined as vice president of finance at Integris Blackwell Hospital and was promoted to president there four years later.
In 2012, he was named president of Integris Canadian Valley Hospital, and has led that facility to successive year-over-year record performances. Van Meter earned a bachelor of accounting from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a master of health care administration from Trinity University.
Gray came to Integris in August 2011 as the chief nursing officer and vice president.
She distinguished herself in that time as a leader of the system’s nurse consortium and member of the Integris executive leadership team. Gray earned national certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a nurse executive, and helped lead efforts that culminated in Integris Canadian Valley Hospital being named an ANCC Pathway to Excellence facility.
Prior to joining Integris, Gray worked with Foundation Surgical Hospital Affiliates. She earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master of business administration from Southern Nazarene University.
As both a registered nurse and hospital president, Gray is in elite company in the metro. Her succession track has taught her the ropes when it comes to the executive team.
She vows to always remember how that should translate at the bedside.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit of both. Some of my thought process will change but I hope to bring that aspect of nursing and that experience I have in quality and patient care to the role and kind of design it differently for me,” she said.
“I hope to take a little of both and combine them and hopefully be a strong leader for our town, our patients and our staff.”