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Michelle Wallace: Instilling Hope, Delivering Quality Care!

Michelle Wallace | Chief Nursing Officer
Michelle Wallace | Chief Nursing Officer

Imagine an elderly patient undergoing treatment in a healthcare setting who has no nearby family and struggles with mobility. Administering the patient’s medications is critical, along with the numerous health technicalities that are involved.

But is that all the patient is asking for?

Definite standard care in this situation is of utmost importance, but compassion, companionship, and other skills outside the technical realm can create wonders to improve the quality of a patient’s life.

This has made nurses uniquely position themselves in the healthcare niche, wherein their direct contact with patients builds relationships and plays a critical role in patients’ health and satisfaction.

And talking about this unique blend of technical knowledge and an empathetic person-centered approach, one person that ticks the list righteously is Michelle Wallace.

Throughout her decade-long experience in the Grady Health System, Michelle has been committed to delivering quality care with humanity, compassion, and kindness.

In order to learn about how Michelle stands by these values and transforms care, kindly delve into her insightful interview.  

What was your inspiration behind venturing into the healthcare sector?

My greatest inspiration for entering the healthcare field was the opportunity to serve others. My father is retired Army, and my grandfather is a retired police officer. Serving has always been an integral part of what our family does.

Please tell us about your journey, highlighting your contribution to Grady Health System’s success.

In 2012 I became the Emergency Department leader, just as Grady began its transformation. Throughout the years, I have had the privilege to work with additional departments, both in a nursing capacity and non-nursing. This system-level view has enabled me to build relationships with other key leaders and collaborate to ensure Grady’s staff’s success while continuously improving patient outcomes.

Can you elaborate upon the core values on which Grady Health System is built and what the mission of the company is?

Grady’s true north is to ensure safety, anticipate needs, and exceed expectations. We are committed to delivering quality care with humanity, compassion, and kindness – and arms open wide to everyone in the community. Our core values are to be patient-centered, be safe, serve others with excellence, do right and do good. At Grady, we live these values every day.

What are the key products and services of your hospital and how has it enabled care for the patients?

Grady Health System is one of the largest safety net health systems in the United States. Grady consists of the 953-bed Grady Memorial Hospital, six neighborhood health centers, Crestview Health & Rehabilitation Center, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding, which is operated as a Children’s affiliate. Grady is the only Level I trauma center in the Metro Atlanta region and serves as the 911 ambulance provider for the city of Atlanta. Grady’s Walter L. Ingram Burn Center is the leading burn center in north Georgia. And the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center is a Joint Commission designated Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. Other key services/distinctions include Grady’s Regional Perinatal Center with its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Georgia’s first Cancer Center for Excellence, The Avon Comprehensive Breast Center, the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, and the Ponce de Leon Center – one of the top HIV/AIDS outpatient clinics in the country. Grady is one of an elite group of hospitals to earn the Baby-Friendly USA international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility.

How do you enable patient-centric care with specific operations that the hospital runs on?

One of our core values is providing patient-centered care. This is instilled in all Grady employees from day one. As a safety net hospital, we provide the highest quality care to all patients, no matter their circumstances, treating everyone with dignity and respect. We maintain open lines of communication with our patients to ensure they understand what’s happening every step of the way and trust us to take care of them.

What are some of the challenges that you face and the most important lessons that you have learned in your professional journey so far.

I’ve learned that healthcare is a constant evolution. The last 2 ½ years have underscored that even more, as frontline workers and hospital leaders have had to adjust and figure out how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve learned the importance of resiliency and overcoming the adversities we face daily in healthcare. But most importantly, I’ve learned that if your team’s primary focus is the overall health and well-being of patients and their families, then you’re doing the right thing.

Being an experienced leader, what is your intuitive advice for budding youngsters venturing into healthcare.

My advice to those entering healthcare is always to be open to learning. Be humble enough to know when you don’t know – and humble enough to know when you need to ask for help. As they grow into leadership roles, they should understand the importance of taking care of their frontline team. If you have the team’s best interest at heart and take care of them, they’ll be able to better care for patients.

Apart from your journey, how do you envision further strengthening Grady Health System’s stronghold in 2022 and beyond?

Truly focusing on the right things – our people and our patients. If we view decisions through that lens, we don’t make wrong decisions. In addition, as we continue to move through the pandemic, nursing and patient care are at a crossroads. Key decisions will be made that will impact the trajectory of patient care.



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