10/05/05 — Wayne memorial gets new nursing director

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Wayne memorial gets new nursing director

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 5, 2005 1:51 PM

Since starting her new role as vice president of patient services at Wayne Memorial Hospital earlier last month, Shirley Harkey has already donned the white nurse's uniform she keeps behind her office door several times so she can make the rounds.

"I always keep a uniform in the office," she said. "I will get out there and do direct observation."

Shirley Harkey

Shirley Harkey

Mrs. Harkey began her nursing career 28 years ago and has been an administrator since 1986. She said she tries to keep apprised of nursing practices, but refuses to just sit on the sidelines and observe.

"She's the kind of person that's not going to ask you to do something that she's not willing to do," said Amy Cain, hospital public relations director.

Twenty-five years ago, the job title was "director of nurses." While the title has changed, Mrs. Harkey said the job is pretty much the same.

At Wayne Memorial, she is responsible for nearly 500 nurses, whose coverage areas include surgical services, intensive care, the emergency department and all floors of patient care. She said her priority right now is to assess the organization, figure out its strengths and opportunities for improvement.

One of the first areas she is studying is the fourth floor, where the pediatrics and women and infants departments are being merged.

She has already spent time on the floor so she could see the patients, observe the role nurses play and the flow of the daily routine, she said.

"I'm trying to be at the forefront to do some assessment," she said. "I plan to do that in other areas but in the transition, knowing that there were some concerns that people were verbalizing, I felt like I needed to go there first."

Her first impressions of Wayne Memorial have been very positive, she said.

"I'm impressed with a lot," she said. "We have an awful lot of technology here that a lot of hospitals don't have, which is helpful for patient safety.

"There is a big push these days on reduction of medical errors. (Here, there are) a lot of good things in place so that we give good, safe, appropriate care."

The hospital also has much to be proud of in the way it recruits nurses.

"People are dedicated to recruitment, scheduling programs, relationships through the schools of nursing around us," she said, making note of the hospital's in-house nursing residency program.

She also mentioned the warm reception she has received since taking over the leadership role. She said she has appreciated the atmosphere of being greeted in the hallways while making rounds.

"I'm impressed with the smiles," she said. "The nursing staff is very pleasant. They have made me feel very welcome."

Originally from Charlotte, she graduated from UNC-Charlotte and obtained her master's degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina. A registered nurse, she has held a chief nursing position for eight years, serving most recently at Nash Health Care Systems in Rocky Mount.

Married to her college sweetheart, Horace "Robbin" Harkey II, the couple have two children, Erica, 23, a senior at East Carolina University majoring in nursing, and Cameron, 19, a sophomore at N.C. State, majoring in computer and electrical engineering.