Thursday, March 31, 2016 8:07 PM

Difficult goodbye after 36 ½ years here

I’ve thought about writing this farewell blog for several months and now that I’m writing it I didn’t realize it would be this hard to do.  Reflecting on my 42 years as an RN, 36 ½ of them at Community Medical Centers I’m not even sure what to say. I’ve spent more than half my life working here!

When I think of the opportunities I’ve had, I realize how blessed I was to have been called to this profession and to join the staff here. The people I’ve met—patients, their families, our staff—not just nurses but other clinicians, support staff, leaders, our board, and our physicians have all impacted my life.  From my days as a staff RN at Sierra, through my time as a staff educator during the 80’s, and finally as a nurse leader since the 90’s, my life has been affected by everyone who I’ve worked with, you all have been part of who I have become. And together we’ve achieved amazing things!

I’ve had fun this past month at the farewell receptions, seeing you, my colleagues and friends. We’ve laughed and shed a few tears, too, talking about the times we’ve spent together. I am taking great memories with me. I’ve been overwhelmed hearing how I’ve impacted your lives and I’ll treasure the time I’ve had here. 

It has been an honor to serve as Community’s Chief Nursing Officer for the past 11 years. We have amazing nurses and I’ve been fortunate to work with great facility nurse leaders—together we have advanced the practice of nursing. They will continue to lead you when I’m gone—ensuring the patient is at the center of decisions made and sustaining an environment where professional nursing and clinical excellence thrive.  I believe Community is a great place for nurses to spend their career, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the different roles I’ve had. I never imagined I’d get to participate in designing a Level 1 trauma center or implementing an electronic health record that would transform our practice! 

I’ve been asked what I’m most proud of—and that is a hard question to answer.  I’m proud of the accomplishments in nursing during my time including the implementation of our RN career ladder, our professional role-based practice model, the Epic electronic health record transforming how nurses document care and the Kronos/OptiLink scheduling and patient classification systems. Only those who work with these systems every day will know how big and how crucial these changes were – and how they have improved our patient care.

I’m also proud of the work we’ve done together to improve the safety and quality of care we provide and the health of the organization. My work with the Value Analysis process felt at first like it might be a chore. But we’ve had a lot of fun with friendly competition and our Value Analysis Teams have done amazing work reducing costs (over $30 million in 5 years) while maintaining or improving our quality. Heading the steering committee for this effort  gave me the opportunity to work directly with many new colleagues from almost every area of the organization.  And being able to participate in our leadership development programs in the past few years has provided me the opportunity to pay forward the mentoring I’ve received during my career.

So, I’m ready for my next adventure—relaxing in my home on the coast, traveling with my husband and who knows what else is coming!  I believe Community is in good hands as I leave.  I’ve lived through hundreds of changes in my 36 ½ years and there are many more to come as you embark on population health management.  Remember, each leader has different strengths and style.  Wanda Holderman will put her mark on the organization differently than I have and together you will accomplish things you can’t imagine today! 

And, some final words of wisdom—if you keep the patient at the center when you’re making decisions, you can’t go wrong. They are why all of us are here. 

Mary Contreras
Retiring Chief Nursing Officer
Community Medical Centers