In an effort to celebrate the successes and highlight the unique obstacles of our donation partners, we interviewed leadership from around our region to ask why donation is important to them, share what is unique about their region and what they enjoy most about living and working where they do.  We are proud to feature Rayn Ginnaty, Chief Nursing Officer, Benefis Health System, as this month’s “Leader in Donation.”

Benefis Health System is a not-for-profit community health system, serving approximately 164,000 residents in roughly 13-counties around the Great Falls region of Montana. With multiple locations, Benefis offers 530 licensed beds between long-term care, assisted living and Hospice care and partners with over 250 area physicians. So far in 2018, Benefis has collaborated on four organ donors saving the lives of 15 people, as well as five tissue donors who have helped as many as 625 patients to heal and become active again.

What does organ and tissue donation mean to you?

For me as a nurse and clinician, organ and tissue donation is our opportunity to give back in a very difficult situation. It’s an opportunity for a family to come to terms with a tragic situation and be able to, at some point, perhaps find peace and a sense of wellbeing knowing they helped other families across the nation who may be dealing with a crisis of their own. When you think of how often in healthcare we deal with negative situations and things that don’t often have good outcomes, to have a program for organ and tissue donation that has positive outcomes is incredible.

It brings closure to our staff and helps build a bond and relationship where often those are the very families that come back and visit our units and departments to say thank you! It may not be something they can do right away, but over time as they heal and reflect on what they went through and what it felt like, they come back. That’s a lifelong relationship they often won’t forget. For nursing there is nothing better than that.

Key point: Hospital leaders who ensure donation is part of a positive care culture have better patient and family experiences.

Why has your donation program been so successful and what drives you to make donation a priority in your hospital?

It gives us an opportunity to provide closure to a family and/ or to clinicians involved in a situation that has an outcome that nobody wants to have happen to their friends or family. I think our program has been successful because it’s an area of focus for us. We’re constantly providing education and talking about it.  It gives us an opportunity to make sure it is on the forefront and make it a positive experience.  We have dedicated staff, providers and clinicians that are mindful they are taking care of a family, along with the patient, which is important in healthcare today.

Best Practice: By offering consistent donation related education and conversations with the healthcare teams, donation becomes a routine part of the healthcare process and provides positive outcomes for everyone involved.

While striving to make donation a priority, what drives you to continue to make it happen?

I don’t think there is anything better we can do in healthcare today than provide the gift of life to another human being. It is incredible to know we are helping create relationships and connections between people who may never have met. When you hear or read the stories about the connections that are made, it is rewarding to know we had a part in that!

What makes you most proud of working at your hospital?

There are so many things I am proud of. I am most proud of our family-oriented employee relationships.  We take care of each other first and foremost. We aren’t perfect, by any means. Any time you are in a high stress environment, there will be days we have to focus on our teamwork and focus on how we treat each other. Not because we have bad intent, but because in healthcare the stakes are high. I love that we are aggressive in advancing healthcare. We don’t ever sit back and say, “we are good enough.” We’re always looking for ways to be better. Whether that is through improving quality care, process improvement, patient or employee experience; those are all very important things we are monitoring, and we are always raising the bar. We are mindful of the cost of healthcare and making sure we remain a viable, stable health system for our region and community.

What’s unique about healthcare in your region?

Our geographical location in the state of Montana. We can see everything from a snake bite one day to a multi-trauma the next. In Montana, we participate in many outdoor activities so it’s not uncommon for us to have a variety of traumas and different needs present through our ED, so we need to be prepared and ready for that all the time. We have an amazing Mercy Flight program that allows us to reach out across the state if necessary to bring those patients here for services. We are very lucky to have a plane and helicopter to transport patients, giving us the opportunity to save lives more quickly. I am proud of the quality of care we provide and the amazing efforts of our providers and clinical teams.

What do you love about living in your region?

I love Great Falls because it is centrally located, and you can get just about anywhere quickly. We are close to many outdoor activities. Whether you like sports, the arts, or music, Great Falls offers lots of things to do. It is a great place to raise a family. And finally, I believe our community takes great care of each other. And of course, Montana is beautiful!