Dr. Barbara Willis, Chief Nursing Officer at Desert Winds Hospital

This episode features Dr. Barbara Willis, Chief Nursing Officer at Desert Winds Hospital. Here, she discusses her background, challenges surrounding behavioral health training, typical length of stay in a behavioral health hospital for adolescents, advice for emerging leaders, and more.


Meet Dr. Barbara Willis: Chief Nursing Officer at Desert Winds Hospital in Las Vegas

Dr. Barbara Willis has been a CNO or COO for over 10 years, with most of her experience being on the medical side. Currently, she is the Chief Nursing Officer at the Desert Winds Hospital, a 200-bed behavioral health facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, that specializes in treating adolescents aged 12 to 17.

Challenges Surrounding Behavioral Health Training

A major challenge that Dr. Willis and her team face is finding nurses and mental health techs with behavioral health experience. Most people have to be trained before they can start working in this field. There is also a need to investigate the community need for adult mental healthcare. The hospital primarily treats individuals with suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation, hearing voices, and major depressive disorders.

Typical Length of Stay in a Behavioral Health Hospital for Adolescents

According to Dr. Willis, the typical length of stay in a behavioral health hospital is 90 days, although some may stay up to 120 days and some may stay as little as 60 days. Treatment includes talk therapy, group therapy, and pharmaceuticals. Mental health treatment is typically paid for by Medicaid, commercial insurance, or self-pay.

Advice for Emerging Leaders

In addition to discussing the challenges and treatment options, Dr. Willis also shared advice for those emerging leaders who want to make a difference in the field of behavioral health. She recommends that they be excited about their job, be compassionate and accountable with their employees, and listen to their staff. Emerging leaders should also close the loop with employees, have difficult conversations when needed, and not be afraid to take leaps.


Dr. Barbara Willis has dedicated her career to helping those struggling with mental health issues. Her experience as Chief Nursing Officer at the Desert Winds Hospital has led her to understand the importance of finding trained professionals in this field and providing effective treatment to those in need. Her advice for emerging leaders is a testament to her commitment to promoting leadership and nurturing a positive work culture.


Note: This is an AI generated transcript, not edited by a staff writer and is solely intended for educational purposes. If you have any questions/concerns, reach out to podcasts@beckershealthcare.com


This episode aired on 05/14/2023 and can be listened here.


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