FORT WAYNE – Bethany Wall walks with a purpose.
In sky-blue scrubs and surgical cap over her dark hair, she doesn’t leisurely stroll through St. Joseph Hospital; she has the fast stride of determination; of one who gets from point A to point B as soon as possible, mainly because point C is literally around the corner and point D could be five floors up.
An energetic 33-year-old, she isn’t in charge of St. Joe yet, but that may be an eventuality. Although she has been there less than two years, Wall is on the fast track in more ways than the hallways.
As the administrative director of surgical and emergency services, 78 employees from 14 divisions report to her. But there are times when it’s difficult to tell the boss from the staff, which explains the rare sight of an administrator in scrubs.
I feel that’s important, Wall said. I feel like the connectivity with my staff is important. I would never ask them to do a job that I wouldn’t do myself, and that’s here at ER (emergency room) and OR (operating room).
She’s not joking. There was the night she did a shift in high heels. My feet hurt the next day, she says. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
Whether it was playing volleyball and basketball at Huntington North High School, where she graduated in 1999, to a teenager showing horses, for which she won three state championships, to her early stages as an emergency room nurse at Parkview Hospital Randallia, Wall has been doing.
I think it’s just my calling, she says, adding that her mother is a nurse, her aunt is a nurse practitioner, and her grandmother was a dental assistant. I just like to take care of people. I like to serve the public.
Wall honed her early skills as an emergency room nurse, then advanced into the operating room. But much of her administrative experience came at Parkview’s site in Huntington, where her hand shot up whenever someone was looking for a committee member.
Any committee, I always jumped to the fact of getting on it.
Because her father owns a masonry company, she knew a little about construction. She picked up on computers. She knew the ins and outs of the nursing profession. She took leadership-development training.
Every chance I got, I just took on to learning new things, new management, Wall says.
Since her arrival at St. Joe in June 2012, she has placed herself in the eye of the progressive hurricane. She has overseen three major projects in the areas of renovation, relocation and expansion, including a $5.9 million, 20,000-square-foot surgical department transformation.
Whether wearing scrubs or skirt, tennis shoes or heels, Wall is somewhere in the building between 7 a.m. and well, as she puts it my night ends when it ends.
She goes home to her husband, Michael, 9-year-old daughter Delaney and 6-year-old son Zack; and their three horses, including 27-year-old Vinnie that she showed in high school.
We grew up together, Wall says of her and Vinnie. He’s my baby.
Vinnie doesn’t exactly have a heart-healthy diet, because one of his favorite snacks is Cheetos, which he chases with Mountain Dew. And much like his owner, he’s figured it out. He grabs onto the plastic bottle with his teeth, tilts his head back and down the hatch.
They’re so big, that little bit’s not going to hurt, she says. He’s picky. He won’t eat carrots, but he’ll eat apples. He’s a spoiled horse; the life of Riley.
In this case, it’s the life of Vinnie.
She’d probably be at work 24 hours a day if she could, but she has other commitments, says Cheryl Rieves, chief nursing officer at St. Joseph. She’s got horses and goats and chickens. She’s amazing.
Wall isn’t so sure about amazing. Just organized.
You solve one thing at a time, Wall says. I’ve had to learn that you do that. Right now I make a list. I can walk out of (an office) and literally 10 people will come up to me and say, Hey, we need this.’
You delegate. You learn how to delegate to the correct people. I have a list that I work from and follow through. I make sure I follow through.
By summer, she will have her master’s degree as a nurse executive. Then what? What will be next?
A doctor friend at Huntington once predicted that Wall will run a hospital someday.
He said, I know you’re going to run a hospital. I can see right through you; you’re going to run your own hospital.’