Pam Tillman knew she would work in healthcare as a young girl. Her grandfather, who suffered from emphysema, made a big impression on her while she helped care for him.
Pam, who is the hospital administrator for LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, said her grandfather told her she would make a good nurse one day. He had good reason to think that; Pam’s mom, Sandra Priddy, also served as a nurse and then as hospital administrator at the rural hospital, so caregiving was just a way of life for them.
“We always joked that I started nursing as a toddler,” Pam recalled. “I remember one day when I was getting ready to go to nursing school, my mom cut her finger, and I helped dress it. I felt like throwing up, and I wondered if I could do it, but here I am.”
Pam took her first job as a staff nurse at what is now LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes in the early 1980s. She has served as the critical care unit manager, ER unit manager, chief of nursing and now administrator.
Over all the years, she says her favorite part of the job is being able to take care of “our friends, neighbors, and families. We offer full-service healthcare and fill a critical need in the community,” she said.
LifeBrite offers a full range of healthcare services, from pediatric services to acute care to rehab and a nursing home facility. LifeBrite’s primary location in Danbury is designated as a critical access hospital (CAH). Critical access hospitals play a vital role in maintaining access to high-quality health care services in rural communities.
More than an administrator
Pam’s devotion to the hospital and to the community is apparent. She’s a huge cheerleader for the hospital, attending many community and government meetings to talk about what LifeBrite can offer and dispel misunderstandings.
“There has been a rumor going around since I started that the hospital is going to close. We have never closed and have no intention of closing,” she said.
Even though she is an administrator, Pam still occasionally helps out with patient care, working overnight shifts if the hospital is short-staffed or jumping in if there is an emergency.
Thankful for staff
“We are a rural hospital, so we can’t be everything to everyone, but the things we can do, we do very well,” Pam said. “We are thankful to have a great core group of staff who have remained with the hospital through all the ups and downs and strive to give the best care to our community.”
Swing bed services offered by the hospital, for instance, make a huge impact in the community and are a point of pride for Pam. A swing bed patient is typically someone who has either had surgery out of town or at LifeBrite and needs to transition to another level of care as they heal and undergo rehabilitation.
“When the patients come in, you see them and their families, and you are able to provide a path for them to follow to get ready to go home,” said Pam. “It’s satisfying to see the patient after two weeks or so, and you know you will be able to send them home ready and able to return to everyday life.”
Providing care from birth until death
When asked if one experience or day stands out in her mind, she recalled a day when she was asked to help out at Stokes County Nursing Home, which is housed in LifeBrite.
“I was asked to start an IV in a 100-year-old. As I was finishing up with that, there was a wreck a mile away that involved an infant, and I went back to the ER to help,” she said. The baby was a newborn, and the parents were concerned the baby had been injured.
“I was able to do a head-to-toe assessment of the baby, who was fine,” Pam said. “The experience captured what we do every day: we have the ability to take care of you from the beginning of life to end of life. It’s full circle, and that’s important.”
Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early and LifeBrite Laboratories. To learn more about LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, visit our homepage.