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Partners for student success

On Tuesday, June 18, Kentucky State Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Derrick Ramsey recognized Rockcastle Regional and Rockcastle Area Technology Center (ATC) for the formation of the state’s first Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) Youth Apprenticeship in Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program during a special ceremony held in the hospital’s board room.

During the event, Secretary Ramsey recognized the efforts of the many people involved in making the program successful, primarily Rockcastle Regional Chief Nursing Office Tammy Brock, RN, MSN, Rockcastle Regional SRNA Facilitator Julie Mullins, RN, and Rockcastle ATC Health Science Instructor Rhonda Childress as well as the program’s first students Janelle Brown, Brittany Doan, Bailey Johnson, and Lindsay Mink.

TRACK is a partnership between secondary education and a business/industry partner where select students receive training at a secondary education facility and on-the-job training with the business partner. Upon successful completion of rigorous requirements, students earn a nationally recognized certificate as a journeyperson in that field.

The program starts when Rockcastle County High School (RCHS) students have the ability to take the level 1 Health Science elective course as a 9th or 10th grader. From there, select students can advance to the level 2 classes as 11th graders. Nearing the end of their junior year, those students who perform at a high level and express an interest in the nursing field will go through a selection process with Rockcastle Regional to determine the final TRACK Certified Nursing Assistant candidates. Those selected will begin to work for Rockcastle Regional during the summer after their junior year.

During their senior year of school, these students will continue to work for Rockcastle Regional, receive instruction at Rockcastle ATC, and work to obtain their CNA certification. Additionally, these students will obtain on-the-job training in a multitude of competencies while at the hospital.

The culmination of this program is a Journeyperson Certification and a continued position at the hospital after graduation from RCHS. The success of this venture is made possible by the outstanding relationships between Rockcastle Regional, Rockcastle County Schools, and Rockcastle Area Technology Center.

“In today’s healthcare environment, nursing shortages are being seen nationwide,” said Brock. “The TRACK program is an excellent opportunity for our organization to identify talented, intelligent, and highly-driven young people who are interested in the nursing field and help them get on a fast track to jump start their career. It allows students to connect with a potential future employer, as well as gain hands-on experience early on so they can be confident they are choosing the best career path for them.”

Brock recognized for work with TRACK program

On August 7, Chief Nursing Officer Tammy Brock, RN, MSN was recognized by the Kentucky Board of Education with the 2019 Kelly Business and Education Partnership Award. The Kelly Award is given to a Kentucky business or businessperson who has partnered with a public school or district to provide outstanding leadership that promotes school improvement and student success.

“This program was truly a team effort to promote student success in the classroom and after graduation,” said Brock. “We developed it with the goal of retaining our young, talented students interested in a nursing career to come back home and serve our community. This is all about Rockcastle and how we keep this community thriving.”

“Best Places to Work in Kentucky” award

Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center has been named a “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” for 2019 by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management (KYSHRM). This is Rockcastle Regional’s fourth year-in-a-row to be named to the list.

“Being recognized as a Best Place to Work in Kentucky is truly an honor for us,” said Carmen Poynter, human resources director at Rockcastle Regional. “This award is a reflection of the work our employees do every day.”

Poynter says that the organization’s goal is to create a work environment where employees are able to live out the organization’s mission of delivering the highest quality of care to those they serve. “Our employees strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of each patient on a daily basis, which is what really drives our engagement as employees.”

Winners from across the state have been selected in three categories: small companies of 15-149 employees, medium companies of 150-499 employees, and large companies consisting of 500 or more employees.

Rockcastle Regional was named a winner in the large company category based on its 709 full and part-time employees. The selection process, managed by Best Companies Group, is based on an assessment of the company’s employee policies and procedures and the results of an internal employee survey.

The competition is a multi-year initiative designed to motivate companies in the Commonwealth to focus, measure, and move their workplace environments toward excellence.

“At Rockcastle, we believe that great patient outcomes begin with engaged employees who are passionate about what they do and enjoy their work,” said Rockcastle Regional president and CEO, Stephen A. Estes. “That’s why we are committed to creating a workplace that allows our employees to thrive and feel supported in their careers.”

Rockcastle Regional will be recognized at an awards dinner on April 23 where the final winner rankings will be announced.

For more information about career opportunities at Rockcastle Regional, or to apply for a job, please visit

Recognized by women for outpatient experience

Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center has been named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Outpatient Experience by the Women’s Choice Award.

Hospitals aiming to provide the most appropriate and value-based care along with advances in technology, such as minimally invasive techniques, have shifted many patient cases to outpatient settings. As a result, hospitals have made significant strides in providing increased customer service to improve the outpatient experience.

With women making over 80 percent of family healthcare decisions and considering their demanding lifestyle with over 70 percent of moms employed, the Women’s Choice Award helps women make those decisions by identifying the hospitals that provide the best outpatient experience.

“The best health outcomes are achieved when the highest level of care is provided with a focus on quality, safety, and patient experience,” said Stephen A. Estes, president and CEO of Rockcastle Regional. “Earning this award for yet another service area of our organization is a testament to our dedication to quality care through our values built on patient safety, satisfaction, and healthy outcomes.”

The methodology used to select Rockcastle Regional as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Outpatient Experience is exclusive in that it evaluates patient satisfaction measures with a hospital visit based on criteria in the Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey (OAS-CAHPS). The evaluation process is the only national list that focuses on the opinion of females. It is the only award recognizing excellence in outpatient satisfaction based on robust criteria that considers the patient experience and clinical excellence.

To receive the award, hospitals must first be accredited by the Joint Commission, The Healthcare Facilities Outpatient Program, or Det Norske Veritas Healthcare. Rockcastle Regional is accredited by the Joint Commission. Accredited facilities are continuously improving the safety and quality of patient care and this certification signifies the facility’s commitment in meeting regulations and best practices for the medical industry.

The categories in the OAS-CAHPS survey are assigned weights based on the feedback received from the Women’s Choice Award Survey. Only hospitals that achieve rankings higher or equal to the national average in communication and care by hospital staff, pre- and post-surgical coordination, facility ratings, and patients’ recommendation are eligible for the outpatient experience award.

Rockcastle Regional is one of 624 award recipients in the nation representing the hospitals that have met the highest standards for outpatient experience in the U.S. by the Women’s Choice Award.

Estes named Fire Starter Hall of Fame Winner

Rockcastle Regional president and CEO Stephen A. Estes was inducted to the 2018 Fire Starter Hall of Fame by Studer Group, a Huron solution, at the 16th annual What’s Right in Healthcare® conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Estes and three other healthcare leaders from across the United States and Canada were named winners:

• Steve Estes, President and CEO, Rockcastle Regional Hospital Respiratory Care, Mt. Vernon, Kentucky
• Linda Deering-Dean, President, Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin, Illinois
• Dr. Bernard Leduc, President and CEO, Hopital Montfort, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• Robert Early, President and CEO, JPS Health Network, Fort Worth, Texas

The Fire Starter Hall of Fame Award recognizes leaders who work daily to identify innovative solutions while facing unprecedented pressures. These leaders are committed to driving excellence while keeping the true spirit and culture of their organization alive and flourishing. Since its inception in 2004, Studer Group has inducted more than 60 healthcare leaders to the Fire Starter Hall of Fame.

“Our 2018 Hall of Fame inductees are transforming the future of healthcare,” says Debbie Ritchie, president of Studer Group. “They are passionate, forward thinkers who refuse to let the challenges and disruption in healthcare hinder progress and positive momentum. We are thrilled to work alongside and honor them for making a difference.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by Studer Group with this award,” said Rockcastle Regional President and CEO Steve Estes. “This is a testament to the work our employees do every day to ensure the safety and best health outcomes for our patients. In today’s healthcare environment, it is essential to look inward at your own processes and find ways to continually improve the way things are done, always striving to improve the patient experience. That is how success is achieved, and that is how we, at Rockcastle Regional, continue to be innovators in our field.”

About Studer Group, a Huron solution: Studer Group is an outcomes-based healthcare performance improvement firm that partners with healthcare organizations in the United States, Canada, and beyond, teaching them how to achieve, sustain, and accelerate exceptional clinical, operational, and financial results. It’s this commitment to helping organizations accelerate their ability to execute that led to Studer Group receiving the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. To learn more about Studer Group visit

Brock named new CNO

Tammy Brock, RN, MSN, has been named Rockcastle Regional’s new Chief Nursing Officer.

Brock, a registered nurse for 29 years, has served the organization in a variety of roles, both as front line staff and in management positions, since she started in 1991. She has been the quality director/clinical risk manager for the last 10 years.

“I am excited to be taking on this role for Rockcastle Regional,” she said. “It’s an honor to be in a position to help our organization continue to meet its patients’ needs with our focus on quality and exceptional patient care.”

As CNO, Brock is leading a 300-employee department of the hospital, which consists of emergency services, acute care, outpatient care, as well as a 127-bed ventilator unit, the largest of its kind in the nation.

Brock replaces Cindy Burton, who after 10 years as CNO, is stepping into the role of director/clinical risk manager for the quality department, a position that she held prior to becoming CNO.

She has overseen the nursing staff through a tremendous period of growth. Meanwhile, the organization’s reputation for quality has also soared, as evidenced by numerous state and national awards for patient care. Nurses are a key to that success.

“In our particular organization, the chief nursing officer is the chief clinical officer,” Burton said. “That person must constantly be monitoring the clinical care and level of quality we are providing to our patients.”

The transition has been in the works for more than six months. Burton and Brock officially switched roles in June; however, preparations for the change began at the end of last year with the two nurses meeting weekly to bring each other up to speed on their new duties and ensure open communication for ongoing projects within each department.

“We are growing so much and so many changes going on, this prevents a disruption in the solidarity of our nursing department and our organization,” Burton said. “The goal of this transition has been that we don’t skip a beat.”

“The great thing is that it’s not like Cindy is leaving the organization,” Brock said. “She’s still here as a resource.”

“The importance of the role of Chief Nursing Officer cannot be overstated in our organization,” said Stephen A. Estes, President and CEO of Rockcastle Regional. “That’s why we were so deliberate in our transition. Mrs. Burton has provided exceptional leadership for the department, and we know Tammy will do the same. Our goal has been to achieve seamless continuity through this process.”

Brock is ready for the challenge of leading in an ever-shifting healthcare environment.

“Healthcare is a constant state of change,” Brock said, “but workforce development and staff retention will always be a focus. The key to having the highest level of care for our patients is to have the right people taking care of those patients.”

With major additions completed in 2007, 2009, 2014, and 2017, Rockcastle Regional is one of the region’s fastest growing healthcare organizations. Brock says to meet the demands of that growth, the nursing department must also continue to develop and grow.

“We cannot provide care or offer new services without the nurses to support that,” Brock said. “Rockcastle Regional has done a phenomenal job building our physician team and bringing these providers back to our community. Now, we want to replicate that for nursing.”

Mr. Estes noted the uniqueness of continuing to have such experienced and qualified nursing leadership.

“This is a win-win for us,” he said. “There are not many healthcare organizations out there than can claim their two most senior nursing positions represent a combined 70 years of experience to their individual facility.”

Recognized by women for excellent care

Rockcastle Regional Hospital & Respiratory Care Center has been recognized by Women’s Choice Award for two of their top distinctions.

The emergency department at Rockcastle Regional received the Women’s Choice Award for being one of America’s Best Hospitals for Emergency Care for the third year.

Rockcastle Regional Hospital was named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience in the nation among hospitals of similar bed size. This is the sixth consecutive year the organization has been a recipient of Women’s Choice Award’s most prestigious honor.

The methodology used to select Rockcastle Regional for both of these awards is unique in that it evaluates specific Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results along with primary research about women’s healthcare preferences.

The Women’s Choice Award collects the data for the following HCAHPS survey measures and uses a weighted average to award the best hospitals for each area:


Emergency Department:
-Time to admission
-Time from admission to room
-Door to diagnosis

Criteria for selecting Rockcastle Regional’s emergency department as one of America’s best also included the average time before outpatients with chest pain or a possible heart attack received an ECG and the average time patients with broken bones had to wait before getting pain medication.

This award is especially significant given that long waits and high crowding can negatively impact patient outcomes, including patients leaving without receiving medical treatment, longer overall length of hospital stay, and an increase in mortality rates.


Patient Experience:
-Effective communication with nurses and doctors
-Responsiveness to requests for help
-Pain management
-Explanation about medications before being administered
-Bathroom and room cleanliness
-Patient recommendation rating

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, good patient experience positively correlates to disease management, adherence to treatment plans, and health outcomes. Because of its outstanding performance in these areas, Rockcastle Regional is named to this elite group for having met the highest standards for patient experience among hospitals in the nation.

Nurse anesthetists make your surgery experience the best possible

Tiffany Patrick always thinks a step ahead.

If you are a surgery patient at Rockcastle Regional Hospital, and she is your nurse anesthetist, expect a call from her the day before your procedure.

“I ask a lot of questions to get up-to-date medical information I need to insure the best outcome,” she said.

Tiffany’s habit of anticipating was evident even as she began her nursing education at EKU.

“I went to nursing school knowing I wanted to do anesthesia,” she said. “I had a plan.”

Her plan got her into the nurse anesthesia program at the University of Cincinnati. Soon afterward, in 2001, she began at Rockcastle Regional Hospital.

Nurse anesthetists work closely with physicians to provide patients with anesthesia and related care before, during, and after surgeries and procedures, with the goal of keeping the patient pain-free during the procedure.

Tiffany embraces that challenge. “I have the best possible job,” she said. “I love it.”

She was the hospital’s only full-time nurse anesthetist until earlier this year. But with surgery patient volumes growing at Rockcastle Regional, she got help. In February, Terry Puckett began full-time with the hospital.

He’d been working at Rockcastle Regional part-time for 10 years, and he still remembers his first week.

“I knew from the start that if the opportunity came up to work here full-time, I’d take it in a heartbeat,” he said. When the call came, he responded with certainty. “It’s an absolute ‘yes,’” he remembers saying.

His career had taken him many places. Soon after nurse anesthetist school, he served in a M.A.S.H. unit in Operation Desert Storm, on a team that treated almost 2,000 patients in Iraq and Kuwait in three months. And for most of his career, the Copper Creek resident had been driving long distances to work, so he welcomed the shorter commute, but he also liked the destination.

“This is the job I’ve been wanting,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier here.”

So Tiffany and Terry share call, and they each work every other week, a set-up that works well for them and provides quality care to a growing number of Rockcastle Regional surgical patients. Much of that growth began with the addition of William Bakhos, M.D., who joined the hospital as a full-time general surgeon last year.

Like Tiffany, Terry recognized early on that he had chosen the right career.

“It’s just something I really wanted to do because it’s a one-on-one patient care situation, which I like,” he said. “And the field of anesthesia is fascinating to me, and always has been.

“With each patient,” he said, “I focus on good outcomes and good patient experience.”

Tiffany likes that as she’s treated patients over the years, she’s also gotten to know Rockcastle County.

“I feel like part of the community, she said. “A lot of people keep coming back, which tell me they have confidence in us.”

Acute care/surgery coordinator Beverly Wooten pointed out the critical role the anesthetists play in the surgery suite.

“Even though it’s a team effort in surgery, the anesthetists play an extremely vital part,” Wooten said. “They are responsible for maintaining the patient’s airway, monitoring the oxygen saturation, level of consciousness, cardiac and renal function throughout the surgery. The safety of the patient is our top priority, and so much of that safety lies in the hands of our anesthetists.”

For more information about the surgery services at Rockcastle Regional, call 606-256-2195.

“FutureDocs” champion

Rockcastle Regional Hospital has been recognized as a 2018 FutureDocs Champion for its partnership with the Southern Kentucky Area Health Education Center (AHEC) in helping enrich the education of the region’s future physicians.

FutureDocs is an AHEC program that helps prepare central and southern Kentucky’s next generation of physicians with pre-med education enrichment and networking opportunities.

“By supporting these students, Rockcastle Regional Hospital is helping us connect them to resources that will enhance their chances of success, and the likelihood they will return home to practice,” said Dwain Harris, director of the Southern Kentucky AHEC, which serves 15 counties south of Fayette down to the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and is hosted by Rockcastle Regional.

The nation is projected to face a shortage of as many as 94,700 physicians by the year 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The shortage will be particularly serious in rural areas, and Kentucky is no exception.

Rockcastle Regional has developed a unique, robust pipeline of local students who become physicians in the community after medical training, and those providers often agree to serve as community faculty for medical and other students who are doing clinical rotations. Studies have shown when students do at least part of their training in a rural setting, they are more likely to one day practice in a rural area.

Representatives from Rockcastle Regional attended the Community Ties banquet on April 26, which honored 17 current and future medical students from the Southern Kentucky AHEC’s region.

The Southern Kentucky AHEC strives to improve the health of its communities by promoting health careers, supporting rural rotations, providing continuing education opportunities for health professionals, and by promoting public health initiatives. For more information, visit

Camp Rock Heroes

Camp Rock Heroes is an all-day summer camp designed to reach out to children who have a parent receiving cancer treatments or who have lost a parent to cancer. Serving children ages 6 through 16, campers will enjoy a fun-filled day with other children going through similar life experiences.

While at Camp Rock Heroes, campers will form lifelong friendships and build a support system that will follow them beyond the effects of cancer on their lives.

Camp Date: Friday, July 20 8 am – 8 pm

Camp Location: Kentucky Christian Assembly in Brodhead Kentucky

Contact: Stephanie Hines at or 606-256-7484

*Children will be served breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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