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Category: Nurse Spotlight

Nurse Spotlight: Wendy Deibert, EMBA, BSN, RN

As a teen, Wendy Deibert experienced a near-death healthcare episode that resulted in an eight-week hospital stay punctuated by four surgeries. That harrowing experience became an enlightening window into what patients go through, igniting a fire in her to be on the other side of the bed taking care of those in need.

Wendy Deibert, EMBA, BSN, RN
Chief Nursing Officer, Caregility
Wendy Deibert, EMBA, BSN, RN
Chief Nursing Officer, Caregility

As a young adult, Wendy dove headfirst into nursing, specializing as a neurologist ICU nurse. She would go on to spend two decades at the bedside at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, eventually managing the ICU. Along the way, her exposure to the whirlwind of emotions surrounding patient care allowed her to see healthcare engagement from multiple angles. When personal experience saw her husband and father become patients, inefficiencies in the healthcare journey sparked a new mission in Wendy to help make care more accessible and easier to navigate for patients.

Determined to make a difference, Wendy took a leap of faith and transitioned into the realm of healthcare technology at St. Louis-based Mercy health system. From ensuring patient medication safety to learning the intricacies of interfacing and formulary building, her IT journey began. But it wasn’t just about incorporating new tools; it was about understanding how technology could serve patients better.

Wendy’s most transformative phase was a tele-ICU project where she oversaw the implementation of e-ICU across 350 beds. This venture brought together diverse care groups, introduced Wendy to the magic of virtual care, and showcased the technology’s potential to bridge the gap between remote areas and big cities. From there, Wendy played an integral role in rolling out more than 70 telehealth programs across six states with Mercy, ultimately culminating in the creation of Mercy Virtual – a mammoth hub of 160 virtual caregivers.

As an employee at Mercy, Wendy was a Caregility customer, using the company’s telehealth solutions to support several of the health system’s virtual care initiatives. After parting ways with Mercy to launch her own consulting business, Wendy eventually joined the Caregility team, where additional resources could support shared growth. She currently serves as Caregility’s Chief Nursing Officer, where she supports clinical integrity on behalf of the virtual care company and its hospital and health system customers.

“My passion is getting care into the home or as close to the home as possible instead of having patients travel. Virtual care is also a wonderful early warning system in inpatient settings like the ICU, enabling faster, more proactive care interventions.”

– Wendy Deibert

Wendy has learned through experience the importance of tailoring tech solutions to organizational needs, emphasizing that it’s not about replacing current processes but optimizing them. Integration, she believes, is vital. Separate systems, she’s found, tend to create bottlenecks, while a universal platform offers streamlined care.

“One patient, one record,” Wendy stresses. “No one wants to use a secondary system. Leverage EMR integration to embed processes and boost adoption. One thing I learned at Mercy is that telehealth programs grow organically. Disparate solutions for different units can be terrible for IT to manage and clinicians really prefer to live in one environment. Get onto one platform you can use across settings.” She encourages care teams to identify telehealth solutions that support broad use cases to simplify program growth and technology management.

“Make the technology, the clinician, and the process equal parts of the process,” Wendy also advises. “Collaboration between clinical and IT stakeholders establishes common ground and common language. If you just drop technology in without formally defining virtual care workflows, roles, and protocols, your program won’t be sustainable.”

Wendy’s unique position as someone with both clinical and technical expertise has given her a holistic view of the healthcare arena. Her journey from an eight-week hospital stay to her leadership role at Caregility has been nothing short of inspiring. Today, Wendy continues to leverage her expertise, advocating for best practices and pioneering the seamless integration of technology in patient care delivery to improve both patient and clinician experience.

Interested in connecting with clinical experts to discuss your hybrid care strategy? Contact Us

Nurse Spotlight: Heidi Steiner, DNP, RN-BC, NE-BC

It’s not uncommon to meet professionals inspired by their family legacy working in healthcare. Although Heidi Steiner grew up surrounded by a family of nurses – including her mother, aunt, cousin, and godmother – she initially resisted the unspoken pressure to tread a similar path. Instead, Heidi was drawn towards community health education. Her dream was to promote health, prevent illness, and keep people out of the hospital.

Heidi Stiener, DNP, RN-BC, NE-BC
Product Manager, Caregility

However, life often takes us in unexpected directions. As Heidi navigated her early career, she conceded to nursing, working as a hospital aide and later as a nurse extern. She grew to appreciate the hospital setting but her core passion always remained: educating people to prevent illness.

This led her to the rehabilitation side of nursing, where she found immense satisfaction in guiding patients and their families through recovery. As Heidi puts it, “The nurse is the quarterback for the team, ensuring patients and their families are equipped with knowledge and care tailored to their needs.”

After relocating to Michigan, Heidi advanced to a nursing leadership role managing a 24-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit. Her interest in collaboration, patient education, and interdisciplinary teams stood out. When the hospital introduced Cerner, Heidi stepped in to represent the nursing department and found herself immersed in the world of informatics, changing the course of her career yet again.

After spending several years leading healthcare teams through the adoption of electronic health records, and then acting as a consultant for Cerner, Heidi ventured into developing a cross-continuum patient education strategy at Trinity Health. Working on a patient engagement portal, she emphasized that hospital care is only a fragment of the patient’s healthcare journey. The real challenge? Ensuring sustained care and knowledge once the patient returns home.

Heidi’s journey eventually brought her to Caregility and the realm of virtual care. As a Product Manager for the company’s virtual clinical consultation software, she influences tech design, features, and strategies that directly affect patient and clinician end-users. Her goal remains consistent: supporting patients, families, and clinicians throughout the healthcare journey. She believes that technology empowers clinicians to deliver their best care.

“Our job as a technology company is to provide tools that empower clinicians to give the best care they can deliver. This aligns with my passions, which have always been working as a team, collaborating in the best interest of the patient and their family, and supporting clinicians to deliver excellent care.”

– Heidi Steiner

When asked about her ideal vision for healthcare, Heidi paints a picture of seamless health information sharing, patient-driven care plans, and more holistic approaches to meeting patient needs. She sees virtual care bridging the gaps in episodic care, providing continuous insight into patients’ health patterns, and introducing new pathways for earlier intervention when necessary.

Heidi’s advice for anyone looking to venture into virtual care? “Walk, then run. Planning is essential, as is stakeholder involvement and a clear roadmap. ID your KPIs upfront and conduct routine milestone tracking to evaluate the success of your program. Evaluate as you go so you can change course as needed.”

With her certification in nursing informatics and a doctorate degree, Heidi exemplifies the importance of continuous iteration and learning. Her story serves as an inspiring reminder that while legacy can light the way, it’s our individual choices, commitment, and adaptability that truly shape our journey. Whether you’re a nurse pursuing your passion or a patient navigating your care plan post-discharge, that’s timeless wisdom.

Interested in connecting with clinical experts to discuss your hybrid care strategy? Contact us today!

Nurse Spotlight: Irene Goliash, RN

For some, the call to care for others is a lifelong passion. One such individual is Irene Goliash, RN. Drawing inspiration from a nurturing home environment, including a mother who often cared for family members and an aunt who was a nurse, Irene always knew she wanted to be a caregiver.

She began her journey into healthcare at an early age. A neighbor who recognized Irene’s intrinsic desire to support others suggested she try her hand at a nursing home role, noting that if she could manage that, she could likely handle any challenge a career in nursing might throw at her. And Irene did just that. “Working as a nursing home CNA gave me my start in nursing, which I found deeply rewarding,” she says.

Irene Goliash, RN
Clinical Program Manager, Caregility

After graduating from Alexandria Hospital School of Nursing, Irene stepped into her first registered nurse role at Washington Hospital Center, a 900+ bed tertiary care facility in D.C. “I started on the medical telemetry floor,” shares Irene. “I always knew I wanted to be in critical care. After gaining experience and becoming comfortable with cardiac rhythms, I moved into the ICU, primarily working in surgical, critical, trauma, neurosurgery, and cardiac surgery care.”

From there, Irene transitioned to a role as a Cardiovascular ICU nurse at Georgetown University Hospital. She spent the next seven years providing comprehensive nursing care, patient education, and discharge planning for cardiovascular surgical patients on a combined ICU/Stepdown unit. During her tenure at Georgetown, Irene served as a charge nurse for the entire unit, acted as a preceptor for nurses during orientation, and developed and implemented a unit-based Peer Review system.

Along the way, Irene’s robust nursing experience attracted the interest of health IT stakeholders. A significant turn in her career came when Irene joined Apache Medical Systems (acquired by Cerner) to oversee the development of clinical end-user training programs. Irene was later recruited by VISICU (acquired by Philips) where she would spend the next 16 years managing the clinical transformation process for clients adopting the eICU program.

Irene’s work and connections eventually led her to Caregility, where she currently serves as a Clinical Program Manager working to alleviate the burdens of bedside teams and ensure a smoother healthcare process for patients through telehealth enablement.

“I know from first-hand experience that sometimes at the bedside you feel like you’re just running around putting out fires,” Irene shares. “It’s easy to get burned out thinking of the list of things you didn’t do. I’m all about helping the bedside team. It’s about alleviating their pain points and making the job more satisfying. Both clinicians and patients should feel the benefit.”

“You can significantly improve patient, family, and staff satisfaction just by shifting clinical workload to someone who has time to devote to the specific activity.”

– Irene Goliash

For those looking to implement a virtual care program, Irene stresses the importance of multidisciplinary involvement. “Pull your direct caregivers into the process from the very beginning,” she advises. “Without their buy-in, no matter how good your program is, it will fail. One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen is when customers think it’s an IT project because of equipment procurement and installation, but it’s not. It truly is a clinical project.” Irene recommends involving clinicians when determining program goals, where to focus, and where you grow from there.

Irene sees tremendous potential in emerging virtual nursing programs. She encourages healthcare organizations exploring the hybrid care model to “start small and take baby steps. You don’t have to come in and save the world. Maybe the best thing I can do as a virtual nurse is record your code for you or do the documentation or page people. Let me do the more mundane things so you can focus on hands-on patient care.”

“All it takes is one big win to prove the value,” Irene elaborates. “This can be particularly beneficial in areas where there is just not enough time to devote to things like patient education. We’re often dinged there by patients and families. Having a remote nurse resource who can teach without interruption is a great way to improve that.”

Irene envisions a future where every care team encompasses both bedside and virtual nurses. “Virtual roles can be a great way to harness the experience of nurses who have the knowledge but may not be physically up to a 12-hour shift, which is harder as you get older, keeping 20 to 30 years of nursing experience in my health system to support my bedside team.”Virtual roles can also be outsourced in rural areas where staffing shortages may leave facilities hard-pressed to pull from existing staff.

Irene’s journey is a testament to the limitless potential and adaptability of nursing. She continues to hone her skills as a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and in her work with ATA developing TeleICU nursing guidelines.

As healthcare pivots to a more integrated approach to virtual care, the experiences and insights of nurse professionals like Irene will continue to illuminate the path to better supporting our patients and bedside teams, retaining experienced clinicians, and innovating care delivery.

Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your hybrid care strategy? Contact us today!

Nurse Spotlight: Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN

Many would agree that the nursing profession isn’t for the faint of heart. RNs see it all. Although Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN, didn’t initially set out to be a nurse, her early years working in the criminal justice system offered plenty of parallels.

Sarah first pursued undergraduate studies in political science and criminal justice, earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Dakota (USD). The Sioux Falls native then held positions as a correctional officer and a court services officer, doing what she describes as “the equivalent of felony probation and supervision for community members who don’t go to prison.”

Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN, Clinical Program Manager, Caregility
Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN
Clinical Program Manager, Caregility

Like the clinical work she’d eventually embark on, Sarah’s Corrections roles operated under a paradigm that put emphasis on prevention through early intervention. The challenge was that she oversaw a population that was profoundly underserved with no access to social services. Sarah recognized that the lack of support services was an impediment to her ability to adequately help those in her community. This point of frustration led her back to school to find a different way she could help.

Sarah earned her nursing degree at USD intending to go into community, public, or mental health. After a preceptorship at the Department of Health setting up points of distribution during H1N1, she landed a critical access nursing role in Chamberlain, SD, at Sanford Chamberlain, ultimately returning to Pierre, her home community, with a role in Avera St. Mary Hospital’s ICU. That role introduced Sarah to a relatively new theory of care. Avera St. Mary’s eICU program allowed patients to receive services from remote clinicians while remaining close to home and family.

“The hospital had an eICU system that allowed clinicians to push a button to get instant access to intensivists and critical care nurses to help take care of critical patients whom we would have otherwise had to transport to tertiary care,” Sarah explains. “When I pushed the button for the first time [to get help] on a drip I was unsure of, I was sold.” Sarah immediately recognized the potential that virtual care posed to broader use cases.

“The thing I am the most passionate about is improving the delivery of patient care.”

– Sarah Lake

“During my career, I did temp work outside of hospitals and worked as a flight nurse, but I always came back to the eICU at Avel eCare (then Avera eCare) because I liked virtual care’s ability to give folks world-class care in their home community. When I came back to work full time in the Sioux Falls area at Avel eCare, one of the service lines was a multi-specialty clinic offering specialties to IHS. Sixty percent of the services we were supporting were mental health or psych related – precisely the kind of services I thought we needed when I was in Corrections.”

When COVID-19 hit, Sarah and her team again turned to telehealth to remotely support patients isolated at home. It wasn’t long before Sarah was recruited by Caregility to put her virtual care experience to work supporting hospitals across the nation looking to follow suit. Today, Sarah helps health systems hone their telehealth strategy, design virtual clinical workflows, and stand up EMR-integrated programs that improve care delivery for patients and providers.

Sarah sees hybrid care fueling what’s possible in healthcare. That includes the ability to support remote family involvement or group visits, patient and staff education, and patient monitoring as an added safety layer and another way to build relationships with patients.

“Post-COVID, patients are sicker and there aren’t as many clinicians available to take care of them,” Sarah notes. “Adopting a virtual nurse is one way teams can meet in the middle. Medicine is also getting much smarter. Wearables and home-based apps have tremendous potential to further personalize care and proactively improve outcomes. Increased use of AI will not only enhance care delivery but also optimize operations. It will account for things people don’t think about when they’re putting patients into beds – like higher fall risk if the patient is placed at the end of the hall – to support the best utilization of space. What locations are best for the recovery of specific conditions? What staff do we have to take care of them? We’ll see the use of AI in those operations.”

For those looking to implement a virtual care program, Sarah offers five points of advice:

  1. Work with a multidisciplinary team including clinical, administrative, and IT stakeholders to define your goals and objectives based on your unique pain points.

  2. Conduct a feasibility study to determine what it will take to launch your program. Consider time and resource requirements, seeking outside expertise as needed.

  3. Define your clinical protocol. Demonstrate ways the solution will benefit patients, lighten staff workload, and foster new professional development skills among staff who will use the tools.

  4. Select technology that supports your identified workflows. Will telehealth endpoints be cart-based or wall-mounted? What integrations are desired? Be mindful of regulatory compliance and network factors.

  5. Iterate and re-iterate constantly.

“Virtual care and telehealth bring us to a whole new level of being able to deliver care to absolutely everybody in a quick, cost-effective manner, even in geographically isolated communities with socioeconomic struggles,” says Sarah. “Today we can have a diabetes patient see a world-class endocrinologist at home on an iPhone. Virtual care lessons I’ve learned along the way have only broadened what I see as the future potential.”

Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your hybrid care strategy?  Contact us today!