Source: The News-Enterprise
The health care industry is nothing new to Sharon Wright. The 56-year-old Elizabethtown resident has been a nurse for years, who started at Hardin Memorial Health in 1987.
But COVID-19 put her in a new role. She’s the incident commander of the HMH COVID Response Team.
“I am charged to assemble HMH clinical leaders to determine our response, including designing the structure of the response and appointing leaders to numerous roles,” Wright said. “I communicate activities with Baptist Health’s incident command structure and review and disseminate all updated state and national guidelines for patient care and staff protection, regulatory requirements and financial resources to aid the organization.”
She also works closely with the Lincoln Trail District Health Department to discuss preparedness, implement restrictions by the state and secure PPE. She helps communicate with health care providers in the community to best manage COVID-19 cases.
Despite being a larger county, she said the community has displayed a remarkably unified response to the COVID-19 coronavirus and the infection ratios are stable.
“However, COVID is serious,” she said. “It is not over and still presents serious risks to our community.”
Her desire for nursing began when she was a child, growing up on a farm in Adair County.
“I recall nursing a tiny kitten back to health with an eyedropper,” she said.
When she was 12, she saw her grandmother die of a heart attack.
“Her death was before advanced cardiac care was available,” she said. “This left a lasting impression in my mind about helping others.”
Nursing was the path that best suited her desire.
“Ironically, in my nursing career, I have cared for many heart patients in the eight years I worked in the emergency department and the 15 years I worked in the coronary care unit,” she said.
The family moved to Glasgow when she was a teenager and that’s where her career got its start.
At Barren County High School, she went to a food service program because she had a passion for cooking. One of her rotations was at the hospital food service department preparing meals for patients. The next year she went to a health careers program and observed in various health care settings.
“I specifically recall the observation time in the coronary care unit, which had a significant impact on my young mind,” she said.
After high school, she complete a LPN program in Glasgow and worked for five years at T.J. Samson Community Hospital in medical surgical nursing and then in the emergency department.
She attended Elizabethtown Community College, as it was known then, to earn a RN degree and started work at HMH.
From 1987 to 2001, she was a staff nurse, charge nurse and preceptor in the coronary care unit.
“I was one of the first new graduates ever hired into the critical care setting at HMH,” she said. “I believe strongly in the importance of education and have volunteered often for committee work and opportunities to educate staff and families.”
From 2001 to 2006 she worked as a staff educator throughout HMH teaching at every level of the facility. This included volunteers, board members and physicians.
“This experience, coupled with my critical care background, helps me dissect very complex issues and translate that information to others concisely,” she said.
From 2006 to 2010, she was manager of the medical care unit that serves most of the isolation patients at HMH. Looking back, she said that experience prepared her for managing COVID.
“Many of the same infectious disease principles I learned as manager are applicable in today’s pandemic,” she said. “This role also allowed me to serve as house manager, leading every inch of the organization during my rotations.”
She served as the emergency department director from 2010 to 2013 where she was able to initiate the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program and worked on the emergency room expansion.
Since 2013, Wright has been vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.
“It has been a whirlwind, including chairing the steering committee for the sale of HMH and leading through a pandemic,” Wright said.
Dennis Johnson, HMH president and CEO, said Wright works tirelessly as she provides patients with what they need for optimal healing.
“I wonder if she ever sleeps,” he said. “Sharon always works to improve patient outcomes, to listen to her team and to implement evidence-based best practices.”
He said she exemplifies how God provides opportunities to love others and honor Him.
“Through her work at HMH, she regularly shares God’s love with over 3,000 HMH employees and countless patients and visitors,” Johnson said. “What a treasure for our health care system and our community.”
Wright said God placed a passion for helping people and compassionate healthcare on her heart.
“I believe nursing and leading are a calling and I choose to follow God’s calling daily,” she said.
Nursing is personal for Wright.
“I have a son with special needs and both my husband and father are high-risk,” she said. “When I work to protect the community against COVID-19, I am working to protect them as well.”
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.