Story by Julie Hales Photos by Paul Nurnberg
Karen Carroll, Vice President for Patient Care Services, as well as the Chief Nursing Officer for Beaufort Memorial Hospital, is one busy woman. She is responsible for all inpatient nursing areas, surgical services, emergency services, the Wound Care Center, the Ambulatory Surgery Center and the Department of Education. Mrs. Carroll has also been involved with the development and implementation of a number of programs at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, including the Clinical Ladder Program, the Preceptor Program, the centralized staffing program and participative management (Shared Governance), and has also been responsible for the development of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit, the Wound Care Center and the Women’s Imaging Center.
Most recently, Mrs. Carroll has worked with the nursing staff to make Beaufort Memorial Hospital the very first Pathway to Excellence designated hospital in South Carolina. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Pathway to Excellence Program is a credential to recognize healthcare facilities that have created positive work environments where nurses can flourish. Pathway-designated organizations are deemed the best places to work for nurses with high nurse satisfaction and retention.
In order to earn Pathway designation, a healthcare organization must demonstrate that it has integrated 6 practice standards into its operating policies, procedures, and management structure. These standards focus on the workplace, a balanced lifestyle for nurses, and policies that support nurses on the job. Organizations benefit from the application process in which they collect the data and evidence to support the 6 standards and validate their integration through an online nurse survey. This designation confirms to the Beaufort community that their healthcare organization is committed to nurses, recognizes what is important to nursing practice, and values nurses’ contributions in the workplace. Nurses know that their efforts are supported by Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and they will in turn, invite other nurses to join them in this desirable and nurturing environment. Research has shown that a healthy work environment improves not only nurse satisfaction, but also patient satisfaction, as well as quality of care.
The passion she has for the nursing field began with her mother, who began her own nursing career when Karen was 6 years old. Carroll’s mother, Yvonne Manuel retired in 2014 after serving patients at Beaufort Memorial Hospital for 41 years. She now uses her nursing talent administering influenza vaccinations during the flu season.
“I was always impressed with my mother’s professionalism and dedication to nursing. She always kept the needs of the patients as a priority in her work. I always saw nursing as an excellent career option and as a great place to combine knowledge and caring. She definitely was an early role model for me in the profession,” Karen shares.
Karen started her nursing education in the associates program at Armstrong State College in Savannah. She went on to receive her bachelor’s and master degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Married for 35 years, Karen’s husband Lowell Carroll is retired from the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Air Force Reserve. He currently works for the federal court system.
The passion Karen has for health care has trickled down to her children. Her oldest daughter, Stephanie, is a pharmacist at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. She and her husband have two sons, Carter and Gibson.
Younger daughter, Lauren, like her mother, had a desire to help people. She became an emergency room department nurse. She combined her desire to help others and her love of traveling, and is currently doing travel assignments.
This year marks Karen’s 38th year at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. She is very passionate about the area and its people. “I often think of Beaufort Memorial as the heart of the community. Healthcare is vital to a thriving community, and over the decades Beaufort Memorial has continued to grow and change and increase healthcare services that keep up with the population demands,” she states. “In my 38 years here, I have seen the hospital change from a general services hospital to a comprehensive healthcare provider. Services have expanded in many areas including cardiac care, cancer care and orthopedic services. The residents of Beaufort and the surrounding counties benefit from these services.”
Karen Carroll began her nursing career at Beaufort Memorial Hospital as a Med Surg nurse. She stayed in that role for about a year and half before transferring to critical care. “I was a charge nurse on the Med Surg unit and ultimately after transferring to critical care also became a charge nurse there. In 1984, I became the director of critical care. I took a break from the position for about a year and a half between 1986 and 1987 and then became the critical care director again in 1988. I held that position until July 2000 when I was offered the position of Chief Nursing Officer,” she adds.
When asked if a role in leadership has always been a part of the vision she has seen for herself, Mrs. Carroll states, “Leadership was not in my original plan; however, I held leadership positions during my education and early work roles. I think I had natural tendencies toward leadership.” It certainly seems that way. Under her leadership, she has seen many changes and lots of growth at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Karen Carroll’s accomplishments at Beaufort Memorial Hospital are quite impressive. She never gets complacent. There is always more to learn, always more to accomplish…and, always more to teach. And, the Beaufort community is sure to continue to benefit from her leadership.