As the director of laboratory Services at Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, Belinda Presley has dedicated her entire adult life to providing quality health care to patients. Beginning 30 years ago as a nurse’s aide, she continued through the ranks and many positions, eventually earning her doctorate in health service among other achievements, which was no small feat.
“That is not an easy task,” Presley says. “Working 40-plus hours a week, raising a family and trying to juggle life, work and school.”
But it gave her a better understanding of where gaps can happen in health care and a better view of the overall picture of what patients need.
Health care has long been her passion because she would expect the best care for her own family should they need it.
Also, there’s the personal reward of making a difference.
“What I find is overwhelming gratification when I am able to touch a life in a positive way,” Presley says.
But she points out her role isn’t just overseeing laboratory tests.
“I talk to the patients,” she says.
Every week she checks in to see how they’re doing, if there are any questions or concerns and if they understand everything. She’ll ask them about the treatment they’re receiving, what tests are performed and stress to them that any caregiver in direct contact should be verifying the patient’s name and birthdate.
“This verification process provides protection for them to receive the right treatment, get the correct tests and the proper follow-up treatment by their physician,” Presley says.
When it comes to newborn babies, she’ll give the parents a follow-up call to see if they have any questions.
Presley says educating the community is key to overall service. All new patients are given a pamphlet when they come to the lab that explains basic testing, what they’re used for and how they can access their results. And then there are the staffers themselves.
“I am a huge advocate for education and have ongoing conversations with my staff on ways to improve their educational needs, employment opportunities and overall career advancement,” she says.
Along with the personal interaction, Presley also must wear her administrative hat. She manages 42 direct and 600 indirect reports across 22 clinics, eight nursing homes and nine hospital departments. As director, she has increased CMH Laboratory funds by $35,000 by identifying and correcting billing and coding errors, saved CMH $250,000 per year since 2014 by negotiating reference laboratory testing, increased revenue by 25% for the OB and Missouri State Health Department PKU newborn testing, and saved $200,000 by negotiating vendor spending to $40,000 a year for five years.
Her career reflects a drive to improve her corner of the health care world in different ways. As a lab director, a professor at Drury University, a dissertation chair and committee member at Walden University’s Doctor Health Program in Minneapolis, to name a few roles, Presley’s dedication continues to touch the community in positive ways.
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