Betsy Chase says she has always been interested in working behind the scenes.
"This is where my love is," says Chase, who as director of infection prevention at Parkridge Health System in Chattanooga oversees processes to ensure people are protected from infection. "It touches every aspect of the hospital."
Chase, who became director two years ago after many years as a nurse, is this year's champion of health care in the non-physician practitioner category.
The Maryland native who came to Chattanooga seven years ago says her department looks at a lot of metrics and data, adding that for-profit hospital operator HCA Healthcare is data-driven.
"We look at everything behind the scenes," she says. "We're caring for the people who are caring for patients. We look at areas people can improve on."
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic greatly affected her job, Chase says. Early on, there was so much to learn and everyone had a lot of questions, she says.
"I'd never lived through a pandemic," Chase says.
Chase says she was active in the command center that was set up in Hamilton County related to dealing with coronavirus response.
"It's been a great learning experience," she says, quipping that she wouldn't have said so while she wasn't getting enough sleep due to the workload. "Now we know how to take care of patients. It's working very well for patients."
But the director says her job isn't for everybody. It's detail-oriented, black-and-white, and the worker must follow a lot of rules, Chase says.
"I learn something every day," she says, noting she talks often with colleagues at Erlanger Health System and CHI Memorial in Chattanooga. "That's the good thing about nursing. There is something for everybody."
There's also an association on infection control that meets regularly in Chattanooga, Chase says.
"When it comes to patients, we're not competitors in my mind," she says.
Chase, who came to Chattanooga when her husband took a new job, says she loves the city and living here. But, she says, HCA is supportive of people who want to grow in their field and offers opportunities in lots of other place.
* Role: Director of Infection Prevention at Parkridge Health System
* Education: Greensboro College; University of North Carolina at Greensboro, nursing degree; University of Phoenix, MBA
* Personal: Married
* When she’s not working: Boating, gardening
"I've still got a lot to learn in this role," Chase says. "I've got an interest in quality as a whole. Time will tell. I've got a great team here."
Dr. Timothy Grant, the chief medical officer for Parkridge who nominated Chase, says that during the COVID-19 crisis, she took the lead for the hospital in managing the strategy in ensuring patient, staff and physician safety in dealing with the virus.
"She demonstrated her knowledge, leadership and passion for infection control during this crisis and worked tirelessly to ensure controls were in place for the proper management of COVID patients who came into our hospital," he says. "It is trying times like these that leadership skills are demonstrated and Betsy was, and continues to be, a true leader for our hospital and community during the COVID-19 pandemic."