Question: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Answer: “I started as a tech, and then as a new grad nurse in 2003 in the NICU and mother-baby. I stayed there for a couple of years on the night shift.” Gretchen also worked at Children’s Mercy where she gained specialized skills to bring back to Liberty Hospital. “When I came back, I was at the NICU again in 2008, then worked as the NICU Charge Nurse, then the Birthing Center Supervisor. In 2017, I ended up in the IT world.” Gretchen has worked for our Hospital’s EMR Vendor as a physician support coordinator, then manager of application services, and now serves as Liberty Hospital’s Vice President of Information and Technology since 2022. “Liberty Hospital has been pivotal in my career; they grew me.”
Question: Speaking of career growth, how has the Foundation been able to help Hospital Employees grow?
Answer: “The Foundation is a huge part of where I am today. In 2014, the Foundation started a partnership with William Jewell College. I applied for that BSN scholarship. Dr. Gerstner and Dr. Rodgers wrote me recommendation letters, and I was able to complete higher education. Having these mentors through the Hospital, and opportunities through the Foundation is a wonderful resource.” The Foundation regularly works with Liberty Hospital to ensure that the talented employees at the Hospital are able to pursue continuing education that are not limited by financial barriers. Together, we recognize that investing in employees helps grow the Hospital.
Question: What makes the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center stick out to you?
Answer: “I had both of my babies at our Birthing Center. It’s just a fantastic experience. I experienced it once as an employee and once as a community member, and I have to say, the feeling you have there as a patient is like a family member. It starts with our great talent there both physicians and nurses. The bond that you have with your labor nurse is like no other. The ability to help people through such a huge life moment is such a privilege. The Birthing Center also is able to help families through whatever situation is presented to them; the staff see the happiest moments and the challenging moments. Working in partnership with Kyleigh’s Gift, and the Weller Family with that program, helps us grow that support in times of loss and need. There’s a true sense of belonging there.”
Question: What is your favorite Liberty Hospital Foundation Program?
Answer: “Kyleigh’s Gift has a special place in my heart. Sleep sacks for new babies, comfort and services for families going through loss is important work. It’s amazing that we’re able to provide meals for families with babies in the NICU and a place to stay at the TreeHouse. As a NICU nurse, I don’t know how many patients that we had over the years that were able to stay close to their babies because of the TreeHouse. If the Birthing Center is full, there’s always a place for them to go. It takes one burden away from families during that difficult time. Hughes Family Assistance is amazing; that we can provide resources for our own staff is a huge accomplishment for the Foundation. I think there’s a lot of positives that the Foundation bring to the Hospital and community.”
Question: Tell us more about your IT team; how has it grown, and how does it serve the Hospital?
Answer: “IT is in everything. Our goal is to stay in the background and serve the Hospital’s needs. Our team has grown so much. Our team is diverse, and we all bring different skillsets. We take care of business and clinical applications, infrastructure, cyber security… If I displayed a flow diagram of our team’s scope- it would blow minds! Most importantly, everything our team does relates back to patient care.” The work that Gretchen and her team focus on helps make the patient care quick and efficient. From getting doctors and clinical staff more resources to chart, diagnose, and communicate quickly all improves quality of care.
Question: How is the IT field evolving to include woman leadership?
Answer: “The field is changing. It’s true that many IT leaders are male. There’s also not a majority of IT leaders that are clinicians. I’m starting to see more and more of it. Recently, I was on a panel for the Kansas City HIMSS Chapter. Someone came up to me after the panel and they said, ‘look at that panel up there, look how it’s changing. There’s seven speakers, four of them are women, and two of them are nurses.’ It’s so cool; we just have to get out there any do it!” Liberty Hospital in particular has many women in leadership roles, and the Foundation is proud to support the diversity, equity and inclusion of our growing Hospital team.
Question: How is IT Changing?
Answer: “Definitely automation, machine learning, AI- these will all be huge aspects of the near future. I remember sitting in nursing school and that by 2030 there will be a nursing shortage. What we didn’t predict is a pandemic that also impacted labor. We’re doing more with less people. We’re finding ways to be efficient. We’re taking care of any administrative burdens that we can to automate whatever is possible. This gives our physicians ability to spend more time with patients. With extra technology comes extra tasks, and our team is always working to cut out those excess tasks. We’re working on taking the tools that are out there and streamlining it to our Hospital’s needs.”
Question: Stepping onto the Foundation’s Board of Directors, what are you most excited for?
Answer: “The Foundation has given so much to me through scholarships, the greater community through Hughes Family and Kyleigh’s Gift. It gives me a constant reminder of ‘why’ I do what I do. It has opened up doors for me that I didn’t know was there, so when I had the opportunity to volunteer in a greater role, how could I not? I believe so much in the Foundation’s work, that I am excited to help give back.” Since joining the RAC, Gretchen is helping to co-chair our Kyleigh’s Gift 10th Anniversary Walk and is also our advocate for our Kyleigh’s Gift program when we need that expertise.
Question: Why do you work for Liberty Hospital?
“Liberty Hospital is able to see initiative and potential in its employees. Leadership has helped see that in me. A previous supervisor saw a part time opportunity to work on an API project years ago, for example, which helped me learn and get to where I am today. They truly grow their own talent!”