Piedmont Fayette Hospital has dozens of women serving in leadership roles
In fact, there are 19 women serving as directors, touching nearly every department in the hospital. They are leaders who help create a culture of patient-centered care and serve as mentors as they mold the next generation of leaders that will follow in their footsteps.
“We have been able to accomplish many great things in our 20 years as Fayette County’s hospital,” said Piedmont Fayette CEO Michael Burnett. “And we have been able to do so, in large part, thanks to the amazing contributions of these leaders.”
Chief Nursing Officer
As the Chief Nursing Officer at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Merry Heath, RN, MSN directs the entire nursing staff and sets the tone for the care that every patient should receive. Merry has been with Piedmont since 2001 and has served as a charge nurse for ambulatory surgery, a service excellence coach for inpatient services, and the Director of Emergency and Critical Care Services among several other roles. One thing that drives Merry is creating future generations of nurses and inspirational leaders who will follow in her footsteps.
“I am always excited by the energy and the caring spirit of new nurses and am thrilled when Piedmont Fayette is their introduction into this career,” Merry said. “We have created a culture of excellence here, one that champions compassionate care, stresses teamwork and connections and builds leaders.”
Director of Inpatient Services
As the Director of Inpatient Services at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Sandra Biles, MSN, RN, CNOR aligns patient care processes on the medical-surgical units to ensure the delivery of safe quality patient care within a healing environment. Sandra has been with Piedmont since 2002 and has served as Clinical Manager for the Operating Room and Central Sterile and Senior Director for Surgical Services.
“As a patient and staff advocate, one of my goals is to ensure that patient care teams work within a safe collaborative patient-centric environment where each team member is valued and respected for their knowledge and skill set – all of which, lead to improved patient care outcomes.”
Director of Human Resources
Piedmont Fayette employs more than 1,700 people and Human Resources is connected to all of them. As director of the department, Holly Sawyer oversees their hiring, their training, and orientation and their engagement and retention.
“I love making sure that we find people with similar values as our company and that we have the right people in the right positions to make Piedmont successful. It is also very rewarding to ensure that we offer a work environment where talent can thrive and offer pay, benefits, and programs which support our employees and their families,” Sawyer said. “I think one of the most important functions of human resources is to keep our employees engaged and inspire them to want to continue to work at Piedmont.”
Executive Director of Patient Services
Debbie’s position at Piedmont Fayette Hospital is a combination of her diverse, professional expertise. She oversees internal and external communications for the hospital and serves as the liaison between the hospital and the community. Since coming to Piedmont Fayette in 2012, Debbie’s responsibilities have expanded to include oversight of several departments including Auxiliary, Nutrition and Culinary Services, Spiritual Care, Sixty Plus Older Adult Services and Oncology Services. In addition to her work at the hospital, Debbie has played a significant role in Fayette County, working with groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Education and Fayette Senior Services.
“Piedmont Fayette strives to be an excellent partner to the community and we know that our relationship with different groups in Fayette County makes us stronger,” Debbie said. “Our care does not stop at the doors of the hospital.”
Director of Critical Care Services
As the Director of Critical Care Services, Annette Harrilson, RN, MS is responsible for the operations of the Intensive Care Unit, Intermediate Care Unit, Peripherally Inserted Intravenous Catheter Team and House Telemetry. She has been a member of Piedmont Fayette’s Nursing Leadership team since 2014. She is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Health and has served in a Nurse Leader role for over fifteen years with a focus on the delivery of patient-centered care. Her team describes her as a compassionate results-driven leader.
“I believe that at the core of all we do as clinicians is the patient and their family,” Annette said. “I practice under the following premise: Patients do not interrupt my work: They are my work.”
Director of Emergency Services
Over 200 people visit Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s emergency department every day and Tina Mann leads the staff that cares for all of them. The department has undergone numerous changes in the past year. It was the first part of the hospital’s 130,000 square foot expansion to open last October and the original emergency department is undergoing renovation to coordinate with the new space. Tina has been extremely successful in leading change and steadily increasing both employee engagement and patient satisfaction.
“I think it is important to care for the team that provides such excellent care to our patients and visitors,” Tina said. “We look out for each other and when we are working together, as a team, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.”
Director of Radiology (Imaging Services)
Kari Prince Adams found the field of radiology almost by accident. While she was about to apply to physical therapy school, she saw an advertisement for nuclear medicine students needed at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After graduating with a degree in nuclear medicine, she later got her Masters in health administration. Now she oversees a large department that handles all of the imaging at the hospital as well as interventional radiology. The department is accredited by the American College of Radiology in computed tomography (CT), mammography, MRI, nuclear medicine, and ultrasonography. Piedmont Fayette has also been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the ACR.
“I have enjoyed every minute of the hospital and the system. The vision and purpose of this organization are truly fulfilling,” said Prince-Adams. “Every challenge and struggle I’ve had was to make sure I was prepared for this opportunity.”
Director of Perioperative Services
Perioperative Services, or Surgical Services, takes up much of the first floor at Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Wendy Latham is the director that keeps the area running smoothly. The day starts bright and early as patients and their families come in for outpatient procedures, but the department never sleeps as it has to be ready at a moment’s notice for an inpatient or emergency procedure. Wendy has been a member of the surgical services team at Piedmont Fayette for a number of years and was named the director of the department last year. The department is experiencing a great deal of growth and Wendy is overseeing the addition and renovation of several operating suites.
“The growth that the hospital is experiencing, especially in regards to the operating room, is exciting,” said Wendy. “Any time we are able to provide more care for more patients is a good thing.”
Director of Cardiovascular Services
Cardiovascular Services at Piedmont Fayette includes everything from catheterization and electrophysiology to cardiac rehabilitation and vascular surgery. Interventional cardiology, like catheterization, can be minimally invasive ways to stop heart disease progression and reverse and heal the damage already done. Mary McFarland oversees the cardiovascular services at Piedmont Fayette and has helped guide the department through recent growth and numerous awards and accreditations. Piedmont Fayette has added a third catheterization lab and an electrophysiology program, while also earning the ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for the fifth year in a row. The award is tangible evidence of the team’s hard work and commitment to delivering the highest quality in cardiovascular care to transform heart health.
“It takes a team effort to achieve the great results, like the Platinum Performance Award, and that includes our work with other departments in the hospital and emergency service personnel,” said Mary. “I’m proud of the work that this team does every day and know that we are saving lives.”
Director of Women’s Services
Women’s Services launched at Piedmont Fayette in 2006. It encompasses labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care, the family care center, gynecology and The Suites at Fayette. As the director of the department, Tracie Delally oversees the entire operation and keeps an area that can be unpredictable running smoothly.
“I love the work that I do because I am able to touch women throughout their young adult lives to when they are older. I am able to be around one of the most special family times, the birth of a child, and watch daily miracles with the smallest and most fragile babies while being surrounded by the most caring staff and providers,” said Delally. “In addition, with the new Suites at Fayette, I am able to expand the ‘special amenities’ that may be important for a patient and make their time spent at Piedmont Fayette even more exceptional.”
Director of Laboratory
Vicki directs and manages the daily operations of the Clinical Laboratory Department at Piedmont Fayette which includes over 90 employees. Seventy percent of the information that a physician needs come from the lab, so it is vital that the lab provides timely, accurate results to the diagnostic team. In addition to this main goal, Vicki is always looking for ways to improve performances, reduce costs and ensure that departmental operations meet criteria and standards of all regulatory agencies.
“Every department of a hospital is busy, but it’s important for us to keep the process moving along,” said Vicki. “There’s no doubt about it, ‘The Lab is Fab.’”
Director of Pharmacy
Rhonda has been the director of the pharmacy at Piedmont Fayette for close to two years. Previously, she served as the clinical manager of the pharmacy for 11 years. Prior to that, Rhonda served as the director of the pharmacy at HCA Peachtree Regional Hospital in Newnan and the assistant director at Newnan Hospital. The pharmacy at Piedmont Fayette is a busy place, arranging for medications for over 200 in-patients a day and hundreds more who are having outpatient or emergency procedures.
“Like the laboratory, the pharmacy touches nearly every patient and every clinical floor in the hospital,” said Rhonda. “It is critical that we be precise and I’m always amazed by the talent and dedication of the members of my team. We may never see the patients, but we definitely play a role in making a positive difference in every life we touch.”
Director of Risk Management
Pat Ingram has been with Piedmont Fayette since the hospital opened in 1997. She started as a nurse in the emergency room and became the director of risk management in 2005.
“I like data and got into doing charts and graphs and peer review,” said Pat. The director of risk management is the go-to person to deal with difficult situations and to address trends pertaining to safety. They are often involved in event and incident management, and the clinical, financial, legal and general business aspects of healthcare. Pat enjoys her job because it touches all areas of the hospital and is always changing.
“This can be a challenging job, but there are opportunities to learn every day and make a difference in the lives of our patients and our staff.”
Director of Case Management
Case management is a department that collaborates with nurses, physicians and outside entities to assess, plan and facilitate care coordination for a patient and their family’s health needs. Julie leads a staff of caring communicators who act as advocates for their patients and make sure that they get the care they need both in and out of the hospital. Julie has been with Piedmont Fayette for over 12 years, having previously served as a director of clinical resource management at St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital for seven years.
“Our department works very closely with patients and their families and we are fortunate to be able to see the impact that we have almost immediately,” said Julie. “Our mission is to make a positive difference in every life we touch and we have those opportunities several times a day every day.”
Director of Finance
Gina joined Piedmont Fayette early in 2017, bringing strong leadership skills and an excellent financial background to help with Piedmont Fayette’s overall strategy. Gina got her start at Southern Regional in 1997, serving as an accountant, a financial analyst, a senior financial analyst and a controller in her career at the hospital, before serving as their Vice President of Finance and Accounting. In her role at Piedmont Fayette, Gina is responsible for the coordination and reporting of the hospital’s financial activities and policies.
“Even though the finance team operates behind the scene, we help make it possible for Piedmont Fayette to do the amazing things they do each day,” said Gina.
Director of Patient Access
Patient Access is a department that schedules, pre-authorizes, educates and registers patients for care. In many ways, they are the first point of contact that a patient has with the hospital. Piedmont Fayette’s Patient Access team supports 13 outpatient departments and the emergency department. As director, Cory Hall leads a staff of 64 team members, including three supervisors and a manager.
“I went into Patient Access 15 years ago and I have enjoyed helping patients and providers to better understand healthcare benefits,” Hall said. “We also play a vital role in patient safety and the protection of patient health information.”
Director of Quality and Safety Integration
Piedmont Fayette is always focused on the safety of its patients and its staff and Kendra serves as the central point of contact and the facility liaison for quality and safety initiatives. She is responsible for communications regarding quality and safety and promoting a culture of continuous improvement and patient safety. Kendra manages and supports a portfolio of strategic projects and ensures that improvement activities are in compliance with regulatory and accreditation bodies. She has been a nurse for over 20 years. Prior to beginning as the director of quality and safety integration at Piedmont Fayette, she was the director of quality, patient safety and training education and development at a metro Atlanta Hospital. She has also been in other inpatient leadership roles, has certifications in patient safety and is a TeamStepps master trainer.
“The safety of our patients is of the utmost importance,” said Kendra. “It truly is something that we focus on improving every day and we continue to make incredible strides.”
Director of Rehab & Fitness
Jill’s role as the Director of Rehab and Fitness at Piedmont Fayette includes overseeing the daily functions and operations of the department, but also planning and developing business growth opportunities and working with other departments on safe patient handling and improving the patient experience.
“I like the variety of practice settings that physical therapy has to offer and always knew that I wanted to be part of a dynamic, caring team that focused on patient care, quality, safety, and service,” Fenimore said. “This is what Piedmont is doing as we strive to make a positive difference in every life we touch.”
Director of Wound Care & Hyperbaric
Melissa Johnson is a Fayette County native and is the regional director of wound care services for Piedmont Healthcare, overseeing the departments at Piedmont Fayette, Piedmont Newnan, and Piedmont Henry hospitals. Melissa has been with Piedmont for over 11 years, having previously served as a senior physical therapist for surgical services and wound care at Johns Hopkins Hospital for six years. Wound Care helps the healing process for people of all ages suffering from non-healing wounds, especially those with diabetes, an infection, poor circulation or other issues that make it hard to heal. Each hospital also offers hyperbaric services that are designed to help speed relief of hard to heal wounds.
“Our department provides care to people when they need it the most and we are able to aid and watch the progress that they make under our care,” said Melissa. “Because it takes time for some wounds to heal, we are able to get to know many of our patients and their families. That’s definitely one of the best parts of the job.”
In recent years Piedmont Fayette has focused on strengthening its culture. The hospital wants each staff member to feel like an owner, comfortable to be a leader in their department and to do everything they can to help Piedmont Fayette be the best that it can be. The women in this article have all helped to establish that culture and create a hospital full of owners and future leaders.
For more information on cancer services at Piedmont Fayette, visit piedmont.org.