October 1, 2012

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Article

Healthcare Heroes

The Quiet Champions of Healing and Hope

Sarah Cutler, Di Lewis, Sarah Ryther Francom

October 1, 2012

Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones
Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah

Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones has devoted her career to the advocacy for women’s health, focusing on reproductive medicine. Parker Jones received an undergraduate degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado, where she also received her medical degree. As a medical student, Parker Jones became passionate about women’s reproductive health and has since been inspired by the many women she has treated. “The patients who have been part of my menopause clinic and our infertility practice have been some of the smartest and most courageous women I have ever known,” she says.

Responsible reproduction is also one of Parker Jones’ passions. She has helped thousands of couples have children through in-vitro fertilization. “A wanted and planned child is a gift to the planet,” she says. “For those who can’t do it on their own, having the ability to make that happen through technology is huge. It’s so rewarding to see a family conceive who truly wants a child.”

Parker Jones, who serves as a professor of gynecology at the University of Utah, is dedicated to educating the next generation of doctors. “I think the greatest privilege has been to be part of the training in gynecology of over 100 residents who are now some of the best Ob/Gyns in the Intermountain West,” she says.

Despite today’s challenging times in the healthcare industry, Parker Jones advises her residents that if they “keep hold of the mission and recognize what a privilege it is to be part of someone’s medical care, then the frustrations of policies and politics and reimbursement don’t loom so large.”

Non-Physician
Kristine M. Ferguson

Director Care Coordination and Outpatient Services,
Shriners Hospitals for Children—Salt Lake City

The road to Kristine Ferguson’s current career has been long and varied. At every stop along the way from drug education and values clarification classes to social work at a long-term care facility, Ferguson has learned news things that have shaped her into the leader she is today.

But she never expected to end up in healthcare. Ferguson was looking for positions in juvenile corrections and happened to apply for an opening at Shriners Hospitals for Children, where she is now the director of care coordination and outpatient services. After joining the hospital, Ferguson says she was hooked. “Being so closely involved in the lives of our patients and families is very rewarding. It seems that no matter how difficult the circumstances, we are always able to do something positive to improve their lives.”

Ferguson says Shriners has given her great opportunities to create programs and advocate for patients and their families. Using interagency collaboration and grant writing, Ferguson and her colleagues established the Intermountain Collaborative Transition Center, a nonprofit agency that helps young adults with disabilities transition into adulthood.

She also coordinated a merger of social workers and nurses under one department, organized by physician-based teams. This care coordination model is unique and has been replicated in many different arenas.

Ferguson says some of the biggest and most gratifying challenges have come from advocating for people over policies, such as limited visitation hours for parents, hospital cafeteria access or lengthy stays for international patients. “Meeting the emotional and social needs of patients has always been my first priority, which means advocating on their behalf when hospital policies do not support them,” she says. “It is a challenge to speak up about these issues, but in doing so I gained the respect of the medical staff and hospital leadership.”

Dianne J. Kane, RN, MS
Nursing Director Oncology Services,
Intermountain Medical Center, Intermountain Healthcare

“Since I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse. Being the oldest daughter in a family of 11 children, it was my job to tend to the younger siblings. When they were hurt or sick, I always wanted to make them better,” says Dianne Kane, nursing director of oncology services at Intermountain Medical Center. “One of my earliest memories of my childhood ‘nursing career’ was taking care of a brother with a broken arm. As I grew older, I knew I could really make a difference as a nurse. I just needed the formal education.”

Kane completed nursing school in 1980 and initially worked at a large pediatric clinic. In 1987, she moved to an in-patient pediatric unit at Cottonwood Hospital. Shortly after, she was asked to participate in a breast cancer pilot program at LDS Hospital. That’s where Kane found her calling.

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