How Kentucky emergency response coordinator prepares 'for whatever is thrown our way'

Teamwork has been imperative for healthcare organizations tested to the extreme in the last couple of years. 

Billie Newbury, regional preparedness coordinator at West Kentucky Healthcare Coalition, will serve on the panel "The Next Wave of Emergency Preparedness" at Becker's 10th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference Nov. 7-10 in Chicago. 

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Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to set your system up for success?

Billie Newbury: The smartest thing I have done in the last year to progress the successfulness of the West Kentucky Healthcare Coalition is taking the 'I' out of this statement. We all have complementary skills, and a task that I might have limitations completing, I know, will be an easy lift if delegated to the right teammate. I am part of a team, and collectively between the group, we can work together and overcome whatever is thrown our way.

Q: What are you most excited about right now, and what makes you nervous?

BN: I am excited about the healthcare coalition being recognized as the important piece of the puzzle. The coalitions can provide the whole picture, an overview of a regional situation, and insight into how organizations are doing, responding and succeeding. What makes me nervous is when every healthcare entity sees what an asset it is to be a part of a healthcare coalition, that will be more work for me!  

Q: How are you thinking about growth and investments for the next year or two?

BN: Most healthcare coalitions are funded through grant dollars provided by ASPR (Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response). We have seen ebbs and flows in funding, and with a growing coalition, we need to consider additional funding sources to sustain us. I would like to see a 501(c)(3) structure, but I would also like to be confident that we will have support from the active and involved agencies in our coalition.

Q: What will healthcare executives need to be effective leaders for the next five years?

BN: Leaders are ineffective if they are not part of the process. If you are not working with your planning teams, if you are not building relationships with your community partners, and if you are not collaborating with surrounding facilities, you must start. When something insurmountable threatens your facility, whether it be a tornado, fire, or ridiculously long pandemic, you will want to know who you can call on for help and what resources they offer.  Also, suppose you haven't taken any incident command system courses or executives role in the incident command course? In that case, there is a good chance you are not helping your organization to its full potential during a catastrophic event. Build your organization on a strong foundation.

Q: How are you building resilient and diverse teams? 

BN: The West Kentucky Healthcare Coalition is working to incorporate all levels and types of healthcare in planning. If we do training or exercises, we try not to be hospital-specific. We want to include hospitals, EMS, emergency managers, local health departments, dialysis centers, blood banks, etc. If we have representation from all types of organizations, we can learn how they can help. It might take the burden off of any organization type, as well.

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