In my first days as an emergency department RN at what is now Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the unit consisted of one hallway with 12 rooms. Documentation was old school, kept to handwritten paper reporting. Unsurprisingly, in my 30-plus years at Carilion, a lot has changed.
I’m thankful to have grown up with Carilion, learning from mentors and peers and appreciating a couple of guiding priorities that have remained constant: quality care and innovation.
After working in the emergency department and spending two decades as a flight nurse and manager for Carilion Life-Guard 10, I landed at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital. I served first as the senior director of Nursing before becoming an administrator and vice president. While no stranger to this community, working as the senior director was my first opportunity to plant roots here. What an experience it has been.
I’ve worked alongside some of the most passionate people you’ll find. Interdisciplinary leaders dedicated endless hours and weekends to launch and operate vaccine clinics. Guest services staff ensure every patient and visitor has a safe and pleasant visit. Maintenance teams go above the call of duty to help, including implementing sustainability programs that decrease our carbon footprint. Whether bedside or in the office, we’re unified by one mission: improving the health of the community that we serve.
Being a part of the Carilion system has allowed Franklin Memorial to flourish. We have access to an integrated care network and renowned medical experts representing more than 80 medical specialties. You can find a service for any medical need, from stem to stern. With advances in technology and telemedicine, access opportunities also continue to expand.
While there will always be room for improvements to our hospital, I am proud of what the team at Franklin Memorial offers our community. Unfortunately, not many rural communities are so fortunate.
Nearly one in five Americans live in rural areas that depend on their community hospital to provide care. Yet, in the last year alone, a record-high 20 of those hospitals closed. The grim reality is that many faced challenging financial situations before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and that strain has only become worse.
This year was undoubtedly difficult. Fortunately, Franklin Memorial was able to rely on the Carilion system to build the financial and staffing resources needed to quickly establish and maintain pandemic operations while still providing access to our broader range of services. Scale also enabled us to find and purchase large amounts of personal protective equipment to keep our caregivers and other patients safe. Moreover, we were able to respond rapidly to the evolving crisis. We expanded telemedicine services, developed and enhanced testing, and ignited innovations that improved care delivery and advanced other clinical services for patients.
Simply put: being a part of Carilion’s integrated system has helped Franklin Memorial get through the past 15 months, and it will allow us to thrive going forward.
As a not-for-profit, we are responsible to the community as our stakeholder. Therefore, any small financial margin is reinvested to address community health needs. Before the pandemic, we identified our next project: interior renovations to update our operating rooms (ORs) and in-house pharmacy to meet growing demands. As we start putting COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, we’re ramping up to make these exciting improvements a reality.
Our ORs and surgical site will be updated with a more modern look and feel. Each OR will double in size from 300 to 600 square feet, giving us space to do more complex and in-depth procedures right here in Rocky Mount. In addition, the pharmacy expansion will allow us to bring in modern, updated tools. We expect the project to be complete in 18 to 24 months.
This renovation allows for expert care offerings close to home and improves the health of the community that we serve. Franklin Memorial teams are leading this work as yet another page in our hospital’s unwavering commitment to care right here in Franklin County.
I’m blessed to be 32 years into my career and part of a robust rural hospital. We are beating the odds and ensuring our community never has to worry about their ability to access compassionate, skilled care. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our neighbors and friends – thank you. And thank you to all the Franklin Memorial providers and employees who make this possible. Your work and your care make us Carilion Proud.
Cline is Vice President and Hospital Administrator for Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital