Nurse leads rural health center
by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
As AllianceHealth Seminole’s Chief Executive Officer, Debbie Hancock, RN, MSN has learned to always carry a set of scrubs with her just in case.
High heels, slacks and pearls are generally the order of the day but then again, like every nurse knows, things tend to hit the fan when you least expect it.
But it’s not a big deal for the 17-year nursing veteran who feels as comfortable in the boardroom as she does in the emergency room.
“It’s a smaller hospital than the one I came from … and there’s really a family atmosphere. Most of the people that work here have worked here forever and that’s dedication right there,” Hancock said. “They want to work here. They want to be here.”
“The people here just make it,” Hancock continued. “They’re proud of their hospital. They’re proud of their community. They could go anywhere but they choose to be here.”
Hancock has served the Seminole population as AllianceHealth Chief Nursing Executive for more than half a year.
She came from a similar role in Texas at Hill Regional Hospital.
Looking to make a move to get closer to her grandchildren, Hancock was able to move from a seven-hour-drive to her grandkids in Wichita, Kansas to just three hours.
WEARING LOTS OF HATS
The experience of a rural hospital is a new one for Hancock, who leads a facility licensed for 32 beds. Her last hospital in Texas had more than a 130-bed capacity.
“With it there’s more challenges here because you wear more hats. You’re responsible for more because you don’t have the people,” says Hancock, who’s worked a couple days each week on the floor for the past few weeks.
On given days, Hancock has found herself serving as the emergency room director or the medical-surgical director.
There’s no flex pool or staffing office to call up when someone is sick.
And the small town of Seminole isn’t one that’s attracting a lot of medical professionals.
“We try to breed them from within,” said Hancock, whose hospital sits a stone’s throw away from Seminole State College. “You have to have people with a different mindset.”
That means showing people that they have ownership of the hospital and their individual unit. After all, they are there to make a difference and stepping up to a leadership role can often be the best and fastest way to improve outcomes.
So far, Hancock has been amazed by staff that have shared leadership roles among them.
“In a bigger hospital you have so many other people you can lean on to take care of things,” Hancock said. “Here you have to lean on nurses that you have.”
That’s why, on occasion, she ditches her desk, puts on her scrubs and hits the floor.
“I see what they’re going through and the struggles that they do have,” Hancock said. “When they tell me we can’t do that … when I work down there with them I find out why.”
THE VISION AHEAD
The wheels are already in motion at AllianceHealth Seminole, which is working to expand offerings.
“I want to see it grow. We have new programs, a sleep lab that’s opening and we’re working on chest pain accreditation,” Hancock said.
February is the expected chest pain accreditation timeline. Soon after the hospital will pursue stroke certification.
“All of AllianceHealth is working towards the same goals and initiatives,” Hancock explained. “It’s important for us to be able to meet our goals. It makes it easier on our nurses when we transfer. When we have the same chest pain and stroke protocols it’s an easy transfer.”
“I just want to see us grow and get the people in place that need to be here.”
She has a feeling most of the pieces are already in place. A couple more hires and she expects a full staff.
Mentoring and moving up within are the order of the day as is Hancock’s willingness to accept suggestions from staff.
“Our goals are the same, it’s just how we get there,” Hancock said. “We’re excited. Good things are happening here.”
AllianceHealth Seminole currently serves more than 30,000 residents in Seminole County and the surrounding area. Seminole is a licensed acute care hospital with two large operating suites, one endoscopy suite, one post anesthesia recovery room, and 32 private rooms. AllianceHealth Seminole began serving the community in October 2007.