(June 11, 2021) – The Kansas Hospital Association's Health Care Worker of the Year Award highlights hospital employees who have made a significant contribution to the betterment of their hospital. These individuals are nominated for this award because they routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.
Heather Hyler, chief nursing officer for Wilson Medical Center in Neodesha, raised the quality and scope of care by targeting a core issue for many rural hospitals – salary and workforce recruitment. As an administrative leader, she implemented changes through advocacy and direct interaction, bringing vision to the whole of Wilson Medical Center and mentorship to her department.
Heather started with WMC four years ago. Immediately, she led efforts to update wage adjustments for nursing staff, making WMC competitive among surrounding hospitals and increasing the range of health care experience offered at the hospital. Attracting and hiring experienced nurses meant enhanced overall staff training, allowing critical patients to stay at WMC instead of transferring to higher-level care facilities. This yielded two immediate benefits for WMC – allowing patients to recover within their home communities and the expansion of services and upgraded equipment for the hospital.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Heather immediately assessed staff resources, personal protective equipment, rapid testing kits and treatment protocols by reaching out to department managers to understand what the hospital possessed versus what they did not. Her daily COVID-19 task force kept staff updated on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, revised protocols and prepared community safety information. When vaccines became available, Heather assisted in the development of an online registry, led mass vaccination clinics and volunteered to bring vaccines to local businesses. Finally, Heather understood the toll the pandemic was taking on hospital employees and she brainstormed ways to keep staff positive and engaged through a "Who Am I" employee contest and a weekly "Rejuvenation Cart" filled with treats.
Heather's loyalty to the WMC family and the Neodesha community is admirable. She understands the benefits a rural hospital receives when they focus on building a workforce consisting of different skills and backgrounds, along with the critical importance of good leadership in crisis.
The Kansas Hospital Association congratulates Heather on her nomination and recognizes the contribution she makes to WMC and the larger Neodesha community. Heather will be honored, along with other Health Care Worker of the Year nominees, during the KHA Awards Luncheon at the 2021 KHA Annual Convention, Thursday, Sept. 9, at the Hyatt Regency Wichita/Century II Convention Center in Wichita.