Holy Rosary Healthcare has announced the recent promotion of three of its nurses to leadership roles within the organization. According to Paul Lewis, CEO, the ability to hire from within demonstrates the level of knowledge and professionalism among the hospital’s nursing team.
“It is unusual for a hospital of this size to have the depth of nursing proficiency we enjoy at Holy Rosary,” he says. “To have three very well-qualified candidates available to step into these roles and not have to look outside our community is really quite remarkable.”
Sheri Conley, RN
Director of Nursing – Residential Living
Miles City native Sheri Conley has been with Holy Rosary Healthcare for six years, working with patients who were in the hospital due to illness or surgery all that time. She had completed her bachelor’s degree at Montana State in Havre, when she decided it was time for a change.
“I was ready to learn another part of nursing,” says Sheri. “Since becoming Director of Nursing in May, I’ve definitely had that opportunity.”
Sheri entered the nursing field, after a very personal experience 15 years ago when her own life gave her a new perspective on the profession. Her first husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away just 19 days after the disease was discovered.
“The healthcare staff—especially the nurses—were so compassionate and helpful,” she recalls. “They were really there for me. I especially remember one young nurse who was walking down the hall and saw me right after we learned about his diagnosis. At the time I didn’t really know what it meant, but she knew. She threw her arms around me and hugged and cried with me.”
That was in the hospital in Powell, Wyoming. Later, after he was transferred to St. Vincent Healthcare, another nurse showed Sheri the same level of compassion. The medical team also did everything to arrange hospice care quickly, getting him home on Memorial Day so that he could spend his last days surrounded by his friends and family.
“I learned that people can make a big difference in the lives others, even at the very end,” says Sheri. “It made me admire the profession and decide to follow it myself.”
Sheri calls the team of nurses and CNA’s she now works with exceptional. She notes that everyone is willing to pitch in and help.
“I appreciate them so much and how well they work together,” she says. “I also love the residents. I can’t explain the feeling they give me—I am already so attached to them. There is one who used to invite me in for cookies and a cool drink when I was reading meters years ago in my prior career. Now I have the chance to take care of her.”
Angela Hall, RN
Administrative Supervisor - Swing Bed Unit
For Angela Hall, taking a leap from working with infants and children to working with adults in a residential living setting was one of faith. She had worked as a pediatric nurse for 15 years, two of them as a supervisor of pediatric outpatient clinics for the Texas Tech Health Science Center in Lubbock.
“My husband and I have been married for three years,” Angela says. “Last year we made the decision to move to Montana after visiting my sister-in-law here in Miles City. In September, I started working in the peds clinic with Dr. Harris.”
It was an adjustment for Angela to get used to the quieter pace of Holy Rosary after experiencing the day-to-day rat race of overseeing multiple clinics in Lubbock. So when she saw the opening for the swing bed unit, she was hesitant of making another career change.
“I firmly believe that if you don’t learn something new every day, you become stagnant,” she says. “So I went ahead even though I was out of my comfort zone working with adults on an inpatient basis. Some days, it feels like I’m back in nursing school and relearning everything. It’s a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Angela, who has hired seven new nurses in the last several months, says they have from two to seven patients in the Swing Bed Unit at any given time. They hope to expand the unit to allow up to nine patients at a time. Patients in the unit are recovering from surgery, an illness or other injury and need access to nursing care or therapy to become as independent as possible before discharge back home or, often, into the Residential Living.
“I do get to help with those in Residential Living as well,” she says. “It’s been a learning experience for me, as this place is home for the 44 residents we currently have with us. I have become very attached to them; they have such amazing stories and histories to share.”
Manager – Emergency Department and ICU
Chad’s path to his new leadership role has followed a bit of a circle. Born and raised in Miles City, he left the area after receiving his nursing degree. For a short time, he worked in Crow Agency at a nursing home, then in Billings with Rimrock Foundation. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Oregon.
“I worked in the Step-Down unit there and was the designated charge nurse on the night shift,” he says. “I worked with patients who were coming out of ICU, but who still needed higher levels of care than they would receive on a standard med-surg floor.”
In 2006, Chad decided it was time to head back to Big Sky Country, and he took a position in the Emergency Department at St. Vincent Healthcare. He worked there for six years before he finally had the chance to move back to his hometown.
“When I moved to Montana, my goal was always to move back to Miles City,” he says. “I wanted to work in the ER and needed more experience, so I went to St. V’s first. But I grew up here and besides my parents, I feel this community raised me. I wanted to give back to them.”
After working at Holy Rosary for the last three years, Chad decided to apply for the job of Manager in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit with the encouragement of his colleagues.
“They are such a supportive team, and they pushed me into going for it,” he says. “I also got support from people in other units. It’s gone amazingly well; better than what I could have imagined.”
Chad says he enjoys working with ICU patients, but also loves working in the emergency room because of its fast pace and constant variety of patients. That includes patients who may have mental health concerns, a population he learned to appreciate while working at Rimrock Foundation more than a decade ago. He also likes the experience that comes with working in critical situations, such as codes and traumas.
“I have had the chance to take care of people I knew when I was growing up,” he says. “When it’s someone I know personally, I have to focus only on the medical aspect of what I’m doing, and set the emotional part aside. But it is so rewarding to take care of people I knew when I was growing up—and seeing their reaction to having me care for them. But that’s what I like about living in a small city: we take care of each other.”