Spotlight on Kim Williams, patient placement specialist, nurse at St. Joseph’s/Candler
Kim Williams, BSN, RN, RC
Patient Placement Specialist, Nurse
Education: Earned her Associate’s Degree in Nursing at Florida College of Jacksonville and her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing
SJ/C: Why did you decide to become a nurse?
Kim: To make a difference is really important to me. I was actually a postal worker before I became a nurse and had no medical experience whatsoever, but that job was really repetitive and mundane. I was seeking something better that would make me feel like I was making a difference and leave a legacy for my kids. I love it.
SJ/C: Why did you choose St. Joseph’s/Candler?
Kim: I came from Baptist in Jacksonville and that was a Magnet facility so when I came to Savannah – I actually live in Bluffton and there’s hospitals there, of course – but when I came here I wanted that same Magnet designation, and I looked for that and applied here.
SJ/C: What are some things you love about working at a Magnet designated facility?
Kim: In a Magnet facility, I feel like your voice is heard. As a nurse in a Magnet facility, you know there are things in place, like shared governance, where leadership will actually ask the nurses on the frontline who are doing the work, ‘What do you think?’ That was important to me because being engaged and feeling like you are respected is important in your daily work, no matter what you are doing.
SJ/C: What are some of the responsibilities you have as a patient placement specialist, nurse?
Kim: We do two bed huddles at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day. We are looking for beds that are going to become available for admitted patients from our emergency departments, surgery, cath lab and direct admissions as well as internal transfers for patients changing levels of care during each day. Our motto is “Right Patient-Right Bed-Right Time” without delay. Then we place the patients based on bed availability and using the information nursing and ancillary departments provide during each call and throughout the day. We have some registration duties, such creating accounts in Meditech for patients, and it’s a call center so of course we are answering phones. It’s a busy place. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.
SJ/C: What is the MD-Admit program at St. Joseph’s/Candler?
Kim: It’s a program that was launched about two years ago as a way to help expedite incoming transfers from our regional partners. Patients may never see this program, but they will certainly see the benefits from the efficiency it allows us to create. The smaller regional hospitals in surrounding counties don’t always have the resources we have or the specialties we have, so they transfer patients here for a higher level of care or service they can’t provide. We coordinate that transfer. Right now, we have RNs covering that from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. We are looking at expanding that, but right now, when they are here, they coordinate all the transfers. At other times our non-clinical coordinators consult with Nursing House Supervisors at our two hospitals for clinical guidance and bed placement decisions for regional facility admissions.
SJ/C: Why do you think it was decided that nurses would be responsible for MD-Admit and patient placement?
Kim: To interpret vital signs and lab values, you really need a clinical nurse in there to make decisions as far as patient placement. Especially with some of the smaller hospitals, they might have a patient in ICU but based on the clinical data you collect, may be more appropriate for PCU or a medical surgical level of care at St. Joseph’s Hospital or Candler Hospital. As a nurse, we collect all the clinical data and determine who we need to call one time, record the phone call, get acceptance and facilitate the transfer logistics for incoming patients. There have been numerous improvements due to standardization of protocols that have resulted in higher customer satisfaction, reflected in the positive feedback from regional referring facilities.
SJ/C: Nursing is so much more than just taking care of patients at the bedside, and you are doing that in your role as a patient placement nurse specialist. Explain the overall role of a nurse, especially for those considering a career in nursing?
Kim: This role is a great nursing specialty where you also feel like you are making a very positive impact in patient outcomes and satisfaction. There are times when we may have one bed and there are five people that need it. Maybe there’s a couple in the ER or coming out of surgery who could use it. But we also have a really sick patient at one of our regional referring facilities. Depending on the condition, I may have to decide to defer making an internal bed assignment temporarily to help a regional patient get to needed intervention and care and do what is best for that patient at that time. As a nurse, I am empowered to make collaborative decisions with physician providers using my clinical experience, training and expertise in a specialized nursing role. I still feel like, even though I can’t be there to put hands on people, this is a really good way I can still be there to help. That is what keeps me going when I miss that patient contact. I love the relationships I’ve made here with our people in the office, with the regional hospitals, with the floor resource coordinators and managers. We work really well together.
SJ/C: What advice would you offer to a new nurse or someone considering a career in nursing?
Kim: I think it’s a really good field. It’s very challenging. It’s not always easy, but I would definitely say to anyone who asks me, make sure you are in it for the right reason. If your heart’s not in it, and you don’t really want to care for people, you won’t be successful. I really encourage people to do it for the right reasons. It is a challenge but it’s also a really rewarding career. I love it.
Family: Married with two kids – son, 8, daughter, 11
Hobbies/interests: Being outdoors – boating, camping, anything outside