People and culture are what drew Bethany Charlton to Covenant HealthCare as a student nurse extern in the pediatric intensive care unit. Now serving as the executive vice president of operations and chief nursing officer, Charlton still cites people and culture as the reasons she has remained at the Saginaw-based nonprofit health system for more than three decades.
“Patients and families are embraced by a culture of caring, and our people – our teams at Covenant – are dedicated to our mission of providing extraordinary care,” Charlton said. “It’s not words on paper; it’s a demonstrated commitment to doing and being the best we can for our community and region.”
An ingrained passion for helping people, not to mention an inclination toward math and science, first drew Charlton to the nursing field.
“Nursing has such a wide depth and breadth of opportunities to make an impact and do meaningful work,” Charlton said. “Having the privilege to be able to provide care for somebody who is going through a challenging time or going through a particular life event is extremely important.”
The opportunity to work on a project that impacted a variety of care-providing teams first gave Charlton a taste of the administrative side of health care. She was inspired by how positive leadership had the potential to be pervasive throughout an entire organization, and lead to favorable outcomes on care delivery. The experience set her out on the administrative path at Covenant. Her current administrative role gives her the unique opportunity to oversee the care of both the patients and staff – a task of no small feat. With 4,800 employees, one-third of the team at Covenant are on the nursing staff, and over a third of the patients in the six-county area of the Great Lakes Bay Region seek health care through Covenant.
“The people who provide care and the people who work at Covenant who support the people and systems providing direct care are extraordinary,” Charlton explained. “They bring their gifts and talents to the organization and utilize them to meet the mission. They are the heart and soul of our organization and it is a privilege every day to be able to work with them as they provide care in our region. It literally is the people that keep me inspired to work at Covenant.”
Nurturing that Covenant culture creates the foundation for exceptional patient care. Even minor medical issues can be scary propositions, Charlton said. What patients at Covenant can expect is caring, quality and dedication.
“There is nothing better than supporting the people in our organization to work toward a common goal of providing extraordinary care for patients and families in our region,” Charlton said.