New Chief Nursing Officer At ETMC Athens Gets High Marks

New chief nursing officer at ETMC Athens gets high marks

By Toni Garrard Clay

The new chief nursing officer at ETMC Athens didn't waste time when she took over the job in April. Rebecca Powell began changing some things.

People don't like change. Right?

"Oh, we like her," said Melissa Graham, a first floor charge nurse. "She's implemented some procedures that have worked out really well. She's very structured. You have to be on your toes, and that's a good thing."

Powell is no newcomer to running a department. Before coming to Athens, she held chief nursing officer or director positions in hospitals in San Antonio; Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Dallas and Fort Worth. She knows her stuff.

"My primary job is to accomplish excellent patient care by providing guidance and collaboration," said Powell.

First floor med/surg charge nurse Denise Rockett said one of Powell's strengths is the confidence she places in her managers.

"She really backs them up," said Rockett. "She lets them know what she wants and then pretty much expects it."

Powell earned her bachelor of science nursing degree from Texas Woman's University and later received her master's in nursing administration from UT Arlington. Included among her list of professional and community affiliations are two organizations that have not a thing to do with healthcare: the United States Equestrian and Dressage federations.

In fact, Powell brought her horse with her from San Antonio.

"I have two children, two cats, two dogs, one horse and a husband - in that order," she joked.

She and her husband Randy, who teaches in a paramedic program, have a 25-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter, Brice and Erin.

Powell said one of the best qualities about working at ETMC Athens is the team atmosphere.

"People here are very friendly and outgoing. When you work different places, you encounter those folks who don't play well together," joked Powell, who became a registered nurse 23 years ago. "I've been very impressed with this hospital. People here work well together. There's a collaborative atmosphere."

Nurses under Powell's direction note that she is a frequent presence in their daily routines.

"She knows what's going on," said Graham. "She makes rounds two or three times a day, which is great. Some chief nursing officers you might hardly ever see."

Powell's style fits in well with the rest of the administrative team at ETMC Athens. She, like they, puts most of her emphasis on how to deliver the greatest standard of care to people.

"I started out on a burn unit at Parkland in Dallas," she explained. "I delivered excellent care, but as soon as my shift ended, my care ended. As a manager, I can have a continuous impact on the care of all patients.

"If I can provide an excellent work environment for all my staff, that will have a positive impact on all the patients here."

"We're very fortunate to have in Rebecca someone who has so many years of experience," said ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace. "The executive roles she has held at other community hospitals make her an excellent fit at ETMC Athens."

The respect Powell receives is certainly mutual.

"The senior leadership team really drew me here," said Powell. "They're very concerned with quality patient care. That's their number-one priority - and to operate the hospital in a fiscally responsible way to achieve that quality."

Another thing about ETMC Athens that has pleased Powell - particularly given her history of experience in the Metroplex - is the hospital's membership in the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

"Through our membership with that council, when we discuss a 'community standard' here, we're looking at a larger community than just Athens," explained Powell. "We're holding ourselves to a standard of care delivered in a much bigger city.

"And that's reflected in the standard of care we deliver at ETMC Athens."