Providence is committed to ensuring seamless leadership transitions and this year was no exception. During the COVID-19 pandemic Southwest Washington welcomed our new Chief Nursing Officer Suzie Scott in January 2020 and Chief Executive Darin Goss in August.
Prior to joining Southwest Washington, Darin was the chief operating officer at Providence in Burbank, Calif., where he was accountable for the quality, safety, engagement, and efficiency of a 392-bed hospital. Since relocating to Olympia, Darin has spent time in both hospitals learning from our medical staff and caregivers as they continue helping patients, all while fighting a pandemic, adjusting to new visitor and mask-wearing policies, and virtual appointments, with the same compassionate resolve our community trusts. “Providence is a proven leader in our communities and I quickly learned that we have solid teams delivering high-quality care while keeping people close to home,” Darin said on his early observations of the region. “The national recognition our Providence nurses have received is a testament to the quality of care we give.”
Suzie, a retired 30-year active duty Army Nurse Corps Officer, chose to settle down in Southwest Washington with her husband after their final assignment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “As I transitioned out of the Army, I still felt that I needed to serve my community and work as a nursing leader caring for caregivers,” she said. “I knew that Providence was who I wanted to continue to serve with because of our shared appreciation to lead mission-first. Our caregivers, from environmental services staff to front-line caregivers in direct patient care roles, are dedicated to our patients every day.”
Suzie and Darin sat down for a conversation on their experiences as executives during a pandemic. They shared their goals and vision for the future of Providence Southwest Washington.
Q: Welcome to Olympia. What surprised you most about our ministries in Thurston and Lewis counties?
Darin: I’m impressed by the longevity of the staff. Many caregivers have been with us for 20, 25, 30-plus years, and they are who have helped write our legacy we enjoy today. I appreciate talking to them and learning more about their history with Providence.
Suzie: Yes, coming from the military I expected to see more transition in the civilian sector, but having that stability is amazing.
Q: As you’ve come to learn about Southwest Washington, our vulnerable population continues to grow. What is Providence doing to help address this challenge?
Darin: This is a multi-pronged approach, and we know we can’t do this alone. We continue to strengthen our relationships with local communities as well as organizations that work to help the underserved. Our growing vulnerable population is on our front doorstep. While Providence can’t do this work solely, we can play a significant role in trying to help ease the way for those who may not have the resources or ability to locate and receive care.
Q: Along with continuing to adapt and provide health care during the pandemic, what is your top goal in the next six months?
Darin: I’m committed to finding the path forward for hospital expansions that are drastically needed to care for our communities in both Thurston and Lewis counties. We need to ensure that we deliver the highest quality of care while also keeping patients local. For example, I’d like to expand services in Centralia. The goal is to keep people in their community to receive the care they need without having to travel.
Suzie: We can leverage the technology we have at our fingertips. During the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ongoing, our team continues to seek out what’s most important for our patients and find creative ways to deliver that. We offer virtual interactions with family members who can’t visit. Our medical staff is utilizing telehealth so that we can get all the experts together without potential exposure in a patient room. These creative approaches help ensure that the team is safe as they continue to fight against this virus and further protect our community.
Q: From the perspective of a leader in the health care industry, what do you see as the biggest issue facing our community?
Darin: I see two issues that interweave together, focusing on our community's behavioral health needs and streamlining health care for people with barriers to access. We are continuing to be a thought leader in caring for behavioral health and offering an expansion by working toward our joint venture behavioral health hospital with Fairfax located in Lacey.
Suzie: We need to acknowledge the interweaving considerations about social determinants in assessing our patients and our populations to make sure we are meeting those needs. We must answer how we can address behavioral health needs considering other resources or lack thereof that may be affecting their life and health care.
Darin: Those are good points, Suzie, and acknowledging that the landscape has dramatically changed for behavioral health resources available in the pandemic and what patients are experiencing in our new world of social distancing and lockdowns. The hospital's visitor policy, which prevents patients from having their support system in the room while receiving care, is a tough thing to work through.
Suzie: Right. And how do we provide a virtual visit if someone doesn’t have electricity, the internet, or a house? We need to continue thinking of how to help individuals overcome these obstacles.
Q: Nurses are the backbone of the health care industry. What would you like our community to know about Providence nurses?
Suzie: What this pandemic has done for me personally is solidified the expertise we have among our caregiver team. Our caregivers have rallied together to make sure we continue to deliver quality care to our patients despite having to do that in a pandemic. It’s a tremendous honor for me to join a service area where nurses at St. Peter and Centralia hospitals have received significant national recognition. I believe we have smart, compassionate nurses capable of providing the highest quality care to our communities.
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