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Baptist-Union County honors Owens’ 50 year career: “She literally molded the culture of our hospital.”

Hug lines were long.

New Albany, MS- Honoring an astonishing 50 year career with one organization, Baptist Memorial Hospital Union County celebrated Barbara Owens, who is retiring from her position as administrative director. About two hundred of Barbara’s friends and co-workers attended a farewell party in her honor in the hospital’s cafeteria on Friday, November 11, 2016. There were gifts, hugs, laughs and tears all around.

A scrapbook and a necklace with one pearl for each year were among the gifts from Owens' hospital and co-workers.

A scrapbook and a necklace with one pearl for each year were among the gifts from Owens’ hospital and co-workers.

A career that began, literally, in her teenage years with an entry-level ward secretary job, has blossomed into one that has led Barbara Owens to be universally recognized as a lynchpin of the award-winning hospital now known as Baptist-Union County. As her friends and co-workers gather today to see her off, takes a look back at this remarkable woman.

It is practically impossible to define the impact that this one woman has had on the employees, patients, and direction of Baptist Union County. It was a great loss to the airline industry when the teenaged Barbara Burks rejected that career path in favor of returning to her small-town roots, taking an entry position at Union County General Hospital. Her belief was that “this is where God wants me,” and she set about becoming the employee that He would have her be.

Mary Foley, the hospital’s risk manager, says, “The hole she leaves will be huge. She has impacted every department, the physicians, and the patients.  She’s mentored countless interns and encouraged them to pursue their careers.  She literally molded the culture of our hospital.”

barbara-5Owens has succeeded beyond her wildest imagination and, as often happens when one is in the correct pathway, she has had the best of both worlds. After giving up a potential life lived in far-flung places, her return to New Albany has proved to be a blessing to her and to her community.

Barbara joined her mother, Ruby Burks, a nurse at Union County General Hospital, in dedicating herself to excellent patient care, not only with an emphasis on the patient and patient’s family, but also with emphasis on the family of employees she worked with on a daily basis.

From her ward secretary job, Barbara move on to medical records, earning her certification in health information management and becoming director of the department. She plunged into the complications of overseeing facility’s transition from paper record-keeping to the electronic medical record that forms the basis of patient care continuity for which Baptist-Union County is now famous in the medical community.

barbara-11-edAfter helping the hospital begin its critically important CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) reimbursement and quality assurance programs, Owens was named administrative director. In that position she expanded her knowledge and influence into most all of the hospital departments as she diligently worked to coordinate all of the major influences on total patient care–information management, patient case management, adherence to applicable regulations and guidelines.

As she assimilated the regulations and guidelines and worked to integrate them in the hospital’s culture, she had influence in practically every area of patient care, from initial contact, through diagnosis, treatment, care and after care.

Barbara Owens has succeeded in making her chosen facility one that is recognized as one of the nation’s finest hospitals. Among many other accolades received, in July of 2016 Baptist-Union County was recognized as one of only three in the nation to receive the Premier QUEST Award for High-Value Healthcare, and the only hospital to have received this award for two consecutive years.

Her ability to “speak the language of everyone” has made her an instrumental part of the success of her hospital. Her unselfish manner and her positive cheer leading skills have won her success in every field she has entered. She is loved by all of those she has supervised, led, cajoled and cheered on to success, and she will, no doubt, be greatly missed every day for a long time.

Barbara has been married to her husband Benny for 46 years; they have two daughters, Kellie and Vicki. We wish her a healthy and happy retirement, with more time to spend on her gardening and her family. We know that, with her daily influence, her family will achieve many successes, and her flowers will be prize-winning.

BARBARA OWENS’ RETIREMENT PARTY, NOVEMBER 11, 2016 (click to enlarge/download photos)



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