story and photo by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Growing up in tiny Belle Plaine, Kansas (population less than 2,000), Linda Dixon learned a lot peering outside the window of her mom’s van.
“You take care of your people,” she said of the biggest lesson.
And it was her mom, one of the only registered nurses around, who taught that lesson on a daily basis.
Dixon, RN, BSN, MS-MHA, is now the director of nursing for the AllianceHealth Midwest Birthing Center. But her nursing education started as a little girl out on those Kansas plains.
Dixon grew up watching her mother work in community health by default.
When the volunteer fire department was called out for a farm accident or roadside emergency and it was more than the emergency staff could handle, the Dixons’ phone would ring.
“It took too long for the ambulance to come from the city so we had a little van and my mother could actually be there before the ambulance got there,” Dixon said.
As she got older, Dixon and her siblings would make the emergency visits that stretched all four corners of rural Sumner County.
When the phone rang Dixon knew it could mean the family would be piling in the van and speeding off.
“Me, my brother and sister were watching,” said Dixon, the middle child, of when her mom arrived on scene and the kids stayed in the van. “We’d be in the car praying. My mother was always taking care of somebody.”
No wonder Dixon and her sister became nurses.
“(Mom) encouraged it and thought it was a wonderful way for women to make a living,” Dixon said. “She worked back when women didn’t work. It was very unusual. She really, really wanted us in medical and we both ended up there.”
Her nursing license came in 1992 as did a job in labor and delivery for a major hospital system in the metro.
She thrived and soon became pregnant with identical triplets who would go on to wrestle for the University of Oklahoma.
“I have three girls but when I had the three boys I wanted to work a little closer to home,” Dixon said of her career move. “It wasn’t safe to leave the house.
“I had to be close to them because they could burn something down pretty fast,” Dixon laughed.
A move to the Renaissance Hospital in Edmond followed where she delivered babies for years until the facility was purchased.
She mixed things up a little in her career and got in on the ground floor helping Oklahoma Blood Institute start a public cord blood bank focused on regenerative medicine.
“I guess I wanted to get back into the hospital setting even though I collected stem cells at the hospital,” Dixon said of her next venture.
With applications in at several area hospitals, Dixon felt her life come into focus when she sat down across from AllianceHealth Midwest Chief Nursing Officer Gloria Ceballos, PhD, RN.
“Something about the interview with her, I just wanted to work for her,” Dixon said. “I felt like she was turning this place around and I believed her. She showed me the improvements they made and I thought ‘I want to be part of that.’”
Dixon took the reigns at AllianceHealth Midwest Birthing Center.
Dixon says if you separated the birthing center from the main hospital it would be considered a five-star facility.
She embraces the one-room birthing concept.
“The (staff) believed in me and a year later we’re there among the tops in the country,” she said.
“I want to maintain it. It’s one thing to get there. Anyone can lose weight but can you keep it off? That’s the trick.” Dixon said. “That’s what we’re doing now. We’re there so our concentration is to stay there. We want to be one of the premier birthing centers in the country and stay there.
“You’re going to get better care.”
Dixon credits her nurses with knocking it out of the park. Presenting them with all the information and understanding how productivity numbers relate to what takes place on the floor helped tremendously.
“We sit down … and once we get a plan they buy in,” Dixon said. “Once you get buy-in it’s done. You can enforce rules on anybody but that doesn’t mean they’re going to do it when you turn your back. But if they believe it and they’re bought in they’ll do it.”