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Strong Nursing Leadership Transforms Saint Clare’s California nurse improves communication, reinvents roles and fosters positive environment

More than a year ago, Suellyn Ellerbe, RN, MN, NEA-BC came from California to become the executive vice president, COO and CNO for Saint Clare’s Health System. Since her arrival, Ellerbe has rocked Saint Clare’s with change.

A new organizational structure was designed, starting with Ellerbe’s position. CEO Leslie Hirsch’s vision was that Ellerbe would be responsible for all staff and departments that touch patients. The goal was to improve communication and collaboration along with streamlining patient care.

“My new role encourages a more collaborative approach and this is illustrated by the director of pharmacy and the executive director of nursing making rounds together in addition to nursing and lab working together all for the best interest of our patients,” Ellerbe said.

Ellerbe reorganized the hospital departments and flattened the management structure. “When I arrived there was a director of nursing at each of the four hospital campuses and resultant different practices,” Ellerbe said. With the new organizational structure, there is now one executive director of nursing and one standard of practice. The nurse manager or patient care manager position at Saint Clare’s was enhanced to become the operations manager, who ensures the environment and resources are available to take care of the patients on each unit. “The operations manager is more a business manager and less a head nurse role,” Ellerbe said. “They are responsible for patient satisfaction, financial and clinical goals along with all needs of their units.”

Shift supervisor and clinical nurse educator positions also were created to allow for real time management and education. The nurses who are in these positions have split positions between management or education and patient care. They work on the nursing units taking care of patients, even on off shifts and weekends, and are able to provide management guidance or education in real time. This also enables nurses to consider their future as an educator or manager and assist with succession planning. “I really enjoy being a shift supervisor,” said Robyn L. Pascale, RN, BSN, shift supervisor on the surgical unit. “It gives me the privilege of working with some of the greatest minds at Saint Clare’s, while still being able to care for my patients.”

Recognizing that communication is key in any hospital organization, Ellerbe established the Operations Leadership Group, Management Council and Nurse Executive Council. Ellerbe chairs the Operations Leadership Group in which all hospital operations leaders are brought together. For the Management Council all front line leaders, including shift supervisors, team leaders and operations managers, along with directors and vice presidents meet to review and discuss issues regarding patient care. The new Nurse Executive Council, which includes nurse leaders regardless of reporting structure and nurse educators, involves less reporting and more strategic planning.

Ellerbe has held strategic planning sessions with nursing leaders and educators to outline the vision and future of nursing at Saint Clare’s. In these sessions, ideas for an admission nurse to assist with patient flow, a Nurse Residency Program, a nursing newsletter, a new education department led by a doctorally prepared nurse, obtaining ANCC magnet designation and a nurse recruiter were proposed.

“In my time at Saint Clare’s, I am most proud of the development of the leadership team,” Ellerbe said. “I enjoy developing people in new roles or quite simply finding talent and exploiting it in a positive way.”

Sue Weaver, RN, MSN, CRNI, NEA-BC, is a shift administrator at Saint Clare’s Health System in New Jersey.

Saint Clare’s Health System nursing leadership, from left, includes Jan Bednar, RN, executive director of nursing; Suellyn Ellerbe, RN, executive vice president, COO and CNO; and Debbie Regen, RN, executive director of nursing.

By | 2020-04-15T13:14:24-04:00 January 31st, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

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