In this final post highlighting the history of women at Family Health West (March is Women’s History month), meet our organization’s matriarch. She reflects on the inspiration of past leadership, mentors those that will come behind her, and leads with grace. While this is the final highlight, it may be most fitting. The caretaker is rooted deep in her style of leadership and while self-promotion is not in her comfort zone, bookending a series promoting FHW women seems appropriate for our FHW Vice President of Operations and Chief of Nursing.
LORI RANDALL – 1997
Lori Randall considers her first year with Family Health West to be 1996 when she was technically a temporary employee awaiting the coveted full-time employee status. In the mid-90s, there was a waitlist to join the official staff of FHW. She patiently worked the night shift waiting for her time, which came in 1997. In that first year, her heart had settled in for the long haul even if Human Resources hadn’t caught up yet. Prior to finding her way to the Fruita nursing home she had attended college at the University of Portland and went on to be a traveling nurse for a time. One assignment in her traveling nurse days included Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She went on to make her way back to Mesa County as she had worked at St. Mary’s Hospital for a time, as well. However, upon return, she kept hearing how the best place to work was in Fruita and focused on gaining employment with Family Health West instead of returning to St. Mary’s Hospital.
She didn’t make an appointment or tell anyone she was coming, she just showed up and sat on the third floor watching the staff and residents interact. What she witnessed was a scene that grew her desire to be part of the FHW organization.
“The residents were well cared for, there was laughter, it smelled good, everyone was happy,” she said. The residents “were happy to be here and I never heard a bad thing about Family Health West.”
Errol Snider was the Chief Financial Officer and Dennis Ficklin was the Chief Executive Officer when Lori came on board at FHW. She describes them both as walking the walk and not asking anyone to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. This leadership style is something she channels to this day in her current role as Vice President of Operations and Chief of Nursing.
“There was such altruism,” she said. “They cared for the greater good and that was the mission I saw” from the first day I started working here. “They are good guys and did things with integrity.”
Aging in place was a large piece of the operations at FHW over many of the years in Lori’s career. She recalls fondly the days when there were 150 beds in the nursing home plus two assisted living facilities and Independence Village. The hospital was small with ten beds primarily for rehabilitation patients, and two emergency room beds staffed by physicians from the neighboring Western Valley Family Practice.
“We had a real family feel” with our patients and employees, Lori said. “I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else.”
Through the years of promoting and transitioning up in the organization, leadership has had a collaborative relationship with the City of Fruita. The City has always had support for this organization and helped us be successful in our community, she said. She went on to say, the governing Board (Lower Valley Hospital Association Board of Directors) is made up of local citizens and has a “community-driven mission.” Together we are doing great things for our Western Slope community, she emphasized.
“We do make a difference and it’s the right difference,” she said.
FHW has a history of building collaborative missions (vs. competitive) with our healthcare partners. Our stewardship is to serve our community, meet the needs of people. And to be available for patients, leadership is acutely aware of the importance to care for our staff.
“It’s the best place to work,” Lori said. “Our vision is to maintain Family Health West being the employer of choice. We do that through Service of Excellence, frontline learning, best practices, and listening to what is meaningful to employees.”
Lori said the administration team she is part of today has an open-door policy. She recalls looking up to those past administrators who also had open doors. She’s worked for servant leaders and strives each day to be one herself.