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Susan Russell: Enhancing Healthcare, Facilitating Eternal Betterments

Susan Russell | Chief Nursing Officer
Susan Russell | Chief Nursing Officer

The nursing profession is both ancient and respected. Its history predates the development of human civilization. The work of a nurse has always been important, and it is reminiscent of great humanitarians like Mother Teresa, who dedicated her entire life to serving others and was awarded the Nobel Prize, and Florence Nightingale, who was known as “the lady with the lamp.”

Awarded for being a proponent for donation, innovation, and nurse/patient advocacy, Susan Russell, Chief Nursing and Patient Safety Officer at Singing River Health System, is an experienced healthcare executive with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and healthcare industry. She specializes in hospital administration, nursing practice, and patient safety. Susan has expertise in the areas of clinical operations and performance enhancement from her work as a national presenter on topics of nurse leadership, panelist, podcaster, and consultant.

Susan Russell was also recognized among the Nurse Deck’s Top 10 Chief Nursing Executives who are transforming the Healthcare sector and has received several statewide recognitions as the Mississippi Nurse Association Nurse Executive of the Year, and Lifetime Recognition for contribution on behalf of Organ and Tissue. Most recently she was appointed as a member of the board of directors for the Mississippi Association of Nurse Leaders.

Let’s dive in to learn about her contribution to Singing River Health System!

With a Spark to Ameliorate Healthcare 

Susan had a strong desire to make a positive, long-lasting impact on the world from a young age. She wasn’t as interested in making money, but rather; she wanted her professional career to make a difference to individuals and the community.

In a sense, Susan began her personal journey at Singing River Health System. She was born at the facility and chose nursing as her career path with the intention to work in the same facility and community she had lived in her entire life. She shares, “My family lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the 1700s, and I planned on building a life here as well. It’s just a beautiful place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The Symbol of Perpetual Excellence

Singing River Health System is a mission-driven, not-for-profit healthcare provider for the Mississippi Gulf Coast and surrounding areas. The system provides the highest level of comprehensive care and has been recognized at the national level for high-achieving facilities. Singing River is one of South Mississippi’s largest employers and was instituted to provide the best possible care to the community, in the community.

At each of its hospitals in Gulfport, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula, Singing River Health System offers both critical and acute medical treatments. The founding of Singing River Health was made possible by Jackson County community leaders who saw the value of providing its citizens with high-quality healthcare. Jackson County is the most industrialized county in Mississippi, and the availability of high-quality healthcare continues to be a major factor in people’s decisions to move to or stay in a community. Current fundamental values include treating patients with respect, communicating with care and compassion, serving with heart and soul, ensuring quality is reflected in all it does, and ensuring collaboration always prevails. These values build on the original ideas. Susan says, “It truly is an amalgamation of who we are as an organization and as community members.”

Singing River coordinates several educational and community outreach initiatives in addition to providing philanthropic help. Providing world-class facilities utilized by over 300 of the world’s greatest doctors, and providing over 4,000 workers, many with advanced degrees. Singing River is a major catalyst for the local economy. Singing River is proud to be the caregiver of choice because of its commitment to enhancing the health of the local community and making it a better place to live and work.

Distinct Offerings with Exceptional Quality

Singing River offers a wide variety of comprehensive services, including a Surgical Center of Excellence, a Robotic Center of Excellence, and a Bariatric Center of Excellence. That allows the region to benefit from the most sophisticated robotic orthopedic operations, single-site hysterectomies, and bariatrics.  Open-heart surgery is provided as well as the only structural heart program in the entire region. Additionally, there are very effective general, oncology, and specialty clinics, as well as medical-surgical, critical care, women’s and children’s, and behavioral health programs housed within the three hospitals themselves.

In its field, Singing River is a technological innovator. Technology in the fields of surgery, oncology, radiography, and patient monitoring has received significant funding. Additionally, it also has the Epic EMR, which is the industry leader in providing the best in clinical and data analysis to improve patient outcomes.

Reinvesting in the Workforce 

According to Susan, everyone is struggling with shortages, but having the best-trained and most engaged team members is the best investment in resources to improve patient outcomes. Singing River is supporting the concept from the highest level of the organization down through the entire structure. Everyone on the executive team believes in the mission and wants every patient to receive the best quality of care possible. Susan adds, “Our community is our shareholders.” And that’s why she feels being part of a not-for-profit is so important.

Overcoming the Adversities

Susan identifies the shortage of human resources since the Great Resignation that began in 2020 as the main difficulty in patient care, particularly related to nursing. The current shortage has spurred Singing River Health System to overhaul all clinical practices, which means taking a closer look at the use of someone who is overly skilled or experienced to do a task that could be possibly accomplished by a lower-skilled individual. Also questioning if some unnecessary tasks or processes are requested or completed that do not improve the quality of care. Even with the new innovations in creating more healthcare workers than ever, the current shortage gap will still not be enough to meet demand until the end of the decade. That means the concept of having primarily RN care teams must be reconsidered. Organizations, including regulatory bodies that haven’t revised regulations since COVID, must take action to create workable solutions to satisfy patient needs with the resources at hand.

Exhibiting Brilliance

Singing River Ocean Springs Hospital and Singing River Pascagoula Hospital were recently awarded an ‘A’ in the Fall 2022 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a national distinction recognizing Singing River’s achievements in protecting patients from harm and providing safer healthcare.

DNV recently certified Singing River Health System Jackson County Locations to the ISO 9001 quality management system. By standardizing processes around practices that have been demonstrated to be effective by those who will be providing care, ISO 9001 adds science to the art of providing care. This empowers frontline employees and fosters predictability throughout the entire organization.

The most significant effect of ISO 9001 on hospitals is the reduction or elimination of variance, ensuring that crucial work processes are carried out consistently and that the “best ideas” are not just held by one person or one department but are instilled throughout the entire organization.

Susan’s vision for Singing River is working collaboratively with others, including partnering providers, insurance companies, local, state and federal agencies, other systems and, of course, her patients! She says, “When we all join forces for collective improvements, the patients are the winners!”





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