Leadership Commitments in Action

KentuckyOne Health

Sue Downs
President, Flaget Memorial Hospital

Sue Downs on encouraging employees to go forward in the face of great change

Sue Downs is well aware that change is inevitable in health care. "The opportunities and challenges we will encounter in 2014 will no doubt be equal to – or surpass – those of 2013,” said Sue, MSN, CENP, FACHE, who serves as president of Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown. “Life is, after all, about change. We see this in God’s creation all around us, and in our own lives.”

While we can’t choose the change we want to see, we can choose our attitude toward change, she said.

“I stay positive because I remind myself and my employees of our mission. No matter what happens with health care, we’re here to take the best possible care of people, and to treat each patient as an individual.”

Sue reflects on the third KentuckyOne Health Leadership Commitment when she talks with Flaget employees: “I will talk about the future with honesty, enthusiasm and a positive perspective that gives people the courage to go forward in the face of great change.”

No one knows what will happen tomorrow, the leader said. But “if we stay focused on the moment, we can offer help to those who need it. All we can do is be here now with those we interact with daily.”

She thinks often of the hospital’s foundresses, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. “The Sisters went where the need was. Like them, we need to be ready to go and meet that need, wherever it is. When I remember their bravery, it gives me the courage to go forward.”

When a leader has to impart changes to employees, “there are times when we’d rather hide out,” Sue said with a smile. “But that’s the time when we need to be even more visible, even more available, and even more supportive.”

Communication is vital to helping staff members accept change, she said. “It’s so important that we support and encourage one another so we have the courage to face an uncertain future.”

Click here to learn more about the KentuckyOne Health Leadership Commitments.