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Chief Nursing Officer
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Eleanor Ramirez: Her true callingEleanor Ramirez is one of the top movers and shakers of Saint John's Health Center.As chief operating officer and executive VP for over two years now, Eleanor is your go-to-girl when it comes to making sure everything in the hospital works, and works well.Not too shabby for a nurse who thought she was just going to be at the patient's bedside checking blood pressure and inserting IVs as a career.The health care profession has always been a part of Eleanor's family.Her mom in fact, is a nurse herself.But young Eleanor sought a BA in Accounting before finally pursuing a degree in Nursing."I just knew that was what I should be doing," she said.All along, she thought she would be by the patients' bedside, but her innate skills had other plans for her. She began her career has an RN at St. Vincent Hospital in the early seventies.It was a twenty year stint that took her to many different positions along the way.Eventually, she ended up as a chief nursing officer.She had a knack for making things work, and everyone saw it.She believes that nurses would make good hospital officers because they are there on the ground everyday, seeing how things work on a clinical and managerial level.It definitely worked for her. In those days, St. Vincent was sponsored by the Daughters of Charity.The system sponsored by the charity eventually merged with Catholic Healthcare West, a system of forty hospitals all over the county.This merger enlarged the responsibilities of some, including Mrs. Ramirez who became involved with California Hospital. For a few years after working at the Catholic hospital, Mrs. Ramirez became an independent consultant where she became acquainted with the Centinela Freeman Heath System.During that time, the Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Daniel Freeman Memorial and Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital had been gathering community support to become independent of the Tenet Health System of which it had been part.They liked her so much, she eventually became their Chief Nursing Officer. Her current role at Saint John's involves the daily operations of the hospital, working with VPs strategic planning, development and planning for the future as well.A new building is slated to be completed in the Summer of 2009 and there is a flurry of activity directed at "equipping and furnishing $38 million worth of new capital," she revealed.Her job?Simple.To Make sure everyone's in sync on the project, all the various groups and individuals involved in the project. Her life experiences and personal characteristics seem to have set her up for the job she holds today.Hospital administration is a feat in organizational prowess, prioritization and tireless labor. Growing up in Filipino household, Eleanor had hard working parents that taught her good values.She recalled a fond childhood memory of her mom always telling her to pick up every penny because every five makes a nickel, and two of those make a dime and so on.Valuing what you have is principle that comes in handy for a hospital administrator.Needless to say, such an environment taught little Eleanor that working hard was the default effort she had to exert to everything she did. The ever coveted skill of multitasking is something Eleanor can take for granted..She married soon after receiving her bachelor's and worked on her masters in Healthcare Administration while she was working at St. Vincent's and had her own children to take care of.Having a helpful husband at home helped of course, but so did her need to be organized ("painfully, almost," she joked). This background is almost tailor-fit to address the stressors on US hospital administrators today.Everyday "[we are] battling recession, issues of reimbursement for hospitals," and it is "a constant struggle "to bring money in", said Eleanor.She wakes up everyday and has to think about which initiative to put her energy into.In a word, Eleanor?"Its tough."But there is a reason why tough jobs always have people working in them."There's a certain amount of satisfaction," she shared, a "feeling that you achieve or accomplish something everyday.Health care is tough right now, hospitals and ERs are closing all over, making access tough for people.Our struggle is to provide good quality care and be good stewards of [scarce] resources." Today, Eleanor is a mentor to many students and an adviser to many family and friends.The new generation of nursing students excites her because they are "so smart.As testament to her own words, Saint John's and its patients are so very lucky to have someone like Eleanor Ramirez as one of the captains at its helm.
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