Word assumes head nursing job at hospital

By Katy Nesbitt, The Observer February 22, 2013 09:52 am

Jenni Word is the new chief nursing officer at Wallowa Memorial Hospital. KATY NESBITT/The Observer
Jenni Word is the new chief nursing officer at Wallowa Memorial Hospital. KATY NESBITT/The Observer

by KATY NESBITT / The Observer 

ENTERPRISE — Sometimes the right answer is the most obvious one. In selecting a new chief nursing officer at Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Jenni Word was the obvious answer.

Dave Harman, hospital CEO said, “Things worked out providentially.”

Word has been with the hospital as a registered nurse for 13 years. Her most recent post was head of surgery and obstetrics. Harman said he approached her to fill in as interim after Laurie Marcum left the hospital, but Word didn’t feel ready to take on the head nursing job.

“She has a young family and was concerned about the time responsibility,” said Harman.

Two candidates were interviewed, the job was offered, yet declined. The administration went back to Word and asked her to reconsider.

“She was doing an excellent job. Within a couple more days of asking her to take the position, she accepted,” said Harman.

Word said she was drawn to medicine from a very young age, but chose nursing over being a doctor because she wanted more time for a personal and family life. She graduated from the University of Portland, and her husband accepted a job as an accountant in Enterprise. She soon was hired by the hospital.

She said she became fascinated by birth when her siblings were born. As a nursing student, she concentrated on obstetrics. 

Nursing is the only job she said she’s ever had, besides babysitting and being a Candy Striper in high school — caring for others seems to be in her blood.

In her new position, she said she sees the department “doing amazing stuff and growing.”

“I have lots of support and don’t have to go into it all alone. My staff gets their jobs done, are dependable and put patient safety first.”

Nurses spend the most time with hospital patients and Word said their job is to create a safe road to recovery. One of the goals in releasing patients is helping them transition home so as to reduce the risk of readmission.

Educating patients with chronic illnesses and providing them with resources to take care of themselves is a top priority.

“We go over changes to their medications, diets, and let them know what resources are available in the community like home health and various service organizations,” said Word.

She said helping patients transition extends to the families as well – educating them, giving them the tools and knowledge to care for their loved one.

Besides patient care, Word said she has student nurses working in the hospital, a great opportunity for nurses to get real world experience in a nurturing environment.

Continuing education for the staff is on-going and Word said she encourages staff to study their specific interests and keep up their skills.

The medical world continues to become sharper and more technical which pushes staff training. Wallowa Memorial continues to embrace new technology and opportunities like reducing medication errors and using telemedicine to consult with specialists.

The hospital is using fetal heart monitors that can see how well a baby is handling labor in utero. Nurses can even monitor mother and baby from the nurses’ station, said Word.

Word said the hospital is also bringing electronic documentation on line to track medical records.

“This decreases charting time and the nurses have more time with patients,” said Word.

Harman, pleased with Word’s transition said, “She is the one we need with the skills necessary, the personality and the right fit in the facility as well as the community.”