Ron Woita, CNO on leadership, community, and accessibility at Sky Lakes
I arrived at Sky Lakes in June 2011 and accepted the position of Emergency Department Director. I am now the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services. I came here from Lincoln, Nebraska, where I had been a clinical manager for a smaller hospital.
At Sky Lakes not only was I encouraged to grow, but I was also actively mentored and coached. My previous leader mentored me in areas I didn’t have much experience in like budgetary and capital responsibilities so that I could learn and grow as a leader at Sky Lakes which allowed me to gain necessary skills for the position I have now. Leadership at Sky Lakes is accessible and supportive. In Nebraska I saw the hospital leadership a few times. At Sky Lakes you should expect run into senior leadership in the halls. The directors and managers are readily accessible, expect that you will have regular access and conversations with your leaders.
Our access and familiarity with hospital leadership allows us to be a more agile organization. This means we can do new things and solve problems faster than other hospitals. We can adopt new technology, care techniques and practices as quickly as necessary to provide our patients with the best care because there are fewer people in the decision-making process. It is common for me to get questions directly from front-line staff because our staff is confident that our leadership is accessible and listening. Our “Let's get through this together” mindset helps us identify issues and address them before they become problems and allows us to develop and adopt staff suggested solutions.
Here you can have close collaborative relationships with your coworkers. Teams develop friendships outside of work here and with other teams. Group opportunities exist for snow, water, and outdoor activities. We figure things out together and this really shows in the respect and familiarity our staff have with each other.
We also invest in our nurses. We prioritize helping the employee get what they need to be successful. It's important as we develop young nurses to take them under our wings. Medicine is an imperfect science; we work through challenges to positively impact the care we deliver to our patients and community, striving for excellence.
We also have so many services and benefits available to employees. Many large hospitals have closed hours for their cafeteria, but ours is 24/7. We also have benefits that incentivize staying long term like incremental paid time off. You already start out with more PTO than most places offer and the longer you stay the more you get. It’s the little things that are important here.
We have “small-town big-medicine” here. You get the small town feel but Sky Lakes has big city technology. We have healthcare access that a lot of similar areas don’t have. While we have interventional radiology or cardiology, we do leverage technology to provide the most up to date care for stroke care giving us access to specialists.
Klamath Falls is small enough that you're going to see the good work you do in the community. Here, you get the opportunity to develop relationships with your patients because you get to know the person; they are more than just a patient that needs care.
What I really appreciate is that we, at Sky Lakes, aren’t just hospital-centric, but community-centric. We work together to solve issues for the whole person in our community through our involvement in the wellbeing of Klamath County and surrounding areas.
On a short visit to the area, the moderate climate is difficult to recognize but the weather is amazing. Nearly 300 days of sunshine per year, low wind, moderate temperatures during both the summer and winter make outdoor activities ideal.
I really like that Klamath Falls is close to a lot of things. Growing up in the Midwest there were not a lot of opportunities nearby. In Klamath Falls, you still come home to low traffic and a small-town feel, but you could take a weekend and go to the coast or go see new things a short distance away.