Department Spotlight: Surgery & Procedure Scheduling

By: Alana Ridge

May 24, 2024

Two group photos of the Surgery and Procedure Scheduling team at Renown Health.

When it comes to intimidating procedures such as surgery, cardiac catheterization (Cath) or interventional radiology (IR), there can be a lot of unknowns. What can I expect on the big day? What will happen after I’m all done? Will I have to worry about my orders not being in the system? Who can I call if I have any last-minute questions? It’s easy for your thoughts to race as you approach your procedure date, but luckily, there is a team who puts your mind at ease. 

With Renown Health’s Surgery & Procedure Scheduling department, patients can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that all the nitty-gritty is taken care of before they step foot in the procedure room. This team operates in the mindset of a complex Tetris board – fitting in all the pieces to make sure every patient is set on the path for surgery success. 

Consistent Contact

Our Surgery & Procedure Scheduling team has a unique history. Initially operating as two separate teams, over the last year, our leaders skillfully combined the two teams together under one umbrella. That allows the now singular team to have line of sight across every surgery and Cath or IR procedure plan and be better stewards of the resources they have at their fingertips to provide streamlined, more-connected care for patients. 

As one might imagine, with the merger of the two teams, the day-in-the-life of each team member is full of a variety of crucial checklist items to cross off – all supporting constant communication from patients to providers. 

On the surgery scheduling front, these team members are resource rockstars. From working with referring providers to get patients scheduled appropriately to ensuring rooms and equipment are available for every patient, this team makes sure everything and everyone is in place when the time comes to help create a successful procedure and the best possible patient experience.  

“In surgery scheduling, we handle inbound calls for the outside offices to get time scheduled for each patient in the operating room (OR),” said Lydia Sharkey, Senior Scheduler. “We make sure there are plenty of anesthesia resources and equipment for every surgery, including any important information that we need to schedule patients appropriately and adding all documents to the OR board. If we need to swap rooms or move patients around, we handle that process too.” 

Over on the IR/Cath scheduling side of things, this team is on the frontlines of patient communication. They are experts in helping patients navigate their procedure from start (seeing their provider and obtaining the proper referrals) to finish (the day of the procedure and post-procedure process). 

“My day is a little different than the hospital schedulers; our part of the team handles the outpatient aspect,” said Adrienne White, Senior Scheduler. “We are in constant contact with patients and the IR and Cath departments. We help them navigate their procedure, including what to expect during and after the procedure. We get them through the process as easily as possible and ease their minds, so they know what is going to happen every step of the way. It’s all about communication, communication, communication!” 

This department has a significant overarching role: make sure all documents and ancillary information is set up for all our clinical teams that help with surgeries and procedures. This critical work means that every process is followed, and no important details are left out. 

“No one wakes up and says, ‘I want to have surgery;” our team goes above and beyond to make sure every single detail is taken care of so that when patients arrive, everything is in place,” said Trisha White. “Our team works hard to ensure everything runs as efficiently as possible because we want to use our resources in the best way possible to serve our patients without delays. We make sure we receive all the orders, codes and insurance and that the teams that follow after us – including our pre-admit team and nurses – have all the information they need to do their job seamlessly." 

With all the work they accomplish daily – not to mention how they wholeheartedly support each other through it all – it’s no question that the entire team has a lot to be proud of. Besides helping make patient care possible, the team puts their departmental merger and the move to fully remote work at the top of the list. 

“We’re most proud of merging the surgery scheduling and procedure scheduling teams together and therefore more cohesive,” said Mary Gray, Senior Scheduler. “The merger has made our team blossom and be able to connect with and rely on one another even more. We aren’t afraid to speak up and say something. At the end of the day, we’re here to take care of the patient, but we also help each other out. Our morale has gone up, and everybody is happier. Even though we all work remotely, we are more connected and have a great work-life balance.” 

“Along with transitioning the two teams into one big team, the move to being fully remote was huge," added Patricia Cruz-Hernandez, Surgical RN Scheduling Coordinator. “We worked through all the glitches, and it was a seamless transition to move into a remote setting. What’s great is that it did not affect patients at all; everything still gets done exactly as it should.” 

No matter how busy the days may get, Renown’s surgery and procedure schedulers always remember one thing: they are incredibly grateful for their fellow team members. 

“We have a very efficient and hard-working team of women,” said Pam Chapa Valencia, Senior Scheduler. 

“I could not have handpicked better people for our team,” added Trisha White. “I feel so lucky to have the team that we have.” 

A Renown “Why”

Our Surgery and Procedure Scheduling team members all have diverse stories to tell about their road to Renown and why they’ve stayed in the department for as long as they have. Whether they’ve been with us for two years or two decades, they all share the same strong calling to care for their community. 

“I always wanted to help people, and my grandma was a nurse,” said Pam Chapa Valencia, Senior Scheduler.  “I loved hearing her stories, and it made me want to be involved in patient care.” 

“I have a caring nature, and a hospital nature seemed like the right fit – I've been here for 25 years,” added Mary Gray. 

Several of our schedulers recognized the influence Renown has within our community and the ability to grow professionally and personally, both of which were a driving factor in their decision to make our health system their long-term career

“I’m originally from southern California, and I moved here about eight years ago; my husband always talked so positively about Renown, especially with how big it is and how it has the only level II trauma center in northern Nevada, so my goal was always to get a job here,” said Lydia Sharkey. “It’s been a great environment to be a part of.” 

“I’ve been with Renown for 17 years, and I chose to come here because of the reputation of the services Renown provided and care they gave,” added Trisha White. “I also knew what opportunities there were for me professionally, and in doing so, we are taking care of our community. I’ve had the chance to grow within my own professional skills and leadership skillset.” 

A profound feeling of ‘home’ is a common theme among this department. These team members appreciate the sense of community Renown has, the strides we’ve made in expanding our reach and how our health system gives healthcare professionals who are new to the field a chance to succeed. 

“At the time, Renown was the only hospital that would train nurses, and as a brand-new nurse, I had no experience – Renown took a chance on me,” said Patricia Cruz-Hernandez. “I feel like this is home. Our health system is so community-based and people-first minded, keeping ‘mission over margin.’ We’re growing, we’re expanding, we’re everywhere!” 

“I was a part of a transition as the cardiology private practice I worked with became a Renown practice, and it was great,” added Adrienne White. “This transition enabled us to provide more services and better care to patients. I stay here because I see the leaps and bounds we’ve been able to make in terms of procedures, accessibility and patient experience.” 

As true advocates for both patients and each other, the team is proud to have found their niche – and the ultimate beneficiaries? Everyone undergoing a surgery or procedure at Renown. 

A Culture of Kindness and Gratitude

When you meet the Surgery & Procedure Scheduling team, you are greeted with warm smiles and an enthusiastic “Nice to meet you!” You can’t help but smile back and feel the infectious kindness they exude. 

Renown operates with a People-First mindset, a vision that this department especially takes to heart. They emulate the exact definition of our “Collaboration” cultural commitment. 

“We’ve built very good relationships and rapport with the OR managers and board runners,” said Lydia Sharkey. “The communication that we have at all three locations is very solid.” 

“The OR leadership is always so willing to help out whenever they can, and the resources they’ve provided have been huge for us,” added Adrienne White. 

“All the teams that see the patients after us – especially the surgical pre-admit team and the case managers, are fantastic about collaborating with us and reaching out to solve any issues they may have,” added Trisha White. “We all work so well together, especially since we all impact patient care.” 

In any organization, strong and compassionate leadership is key to a thriving team. Luckily for our surgery and procedure schedulers, they have Trisha White on their side. They attribute a lot of their success to having a supportive leader who “gets it.” 

“Trisha has been a scheduler like us, so she completely understands when we’re having an issue, because she’s struggled with the same thing and knows where we are coming from,” said Mary Gray. “It makes us feel like we are not alone – I can always reach out to her, or any of my other coworkers, to ask questions and figure out a solution together.” 

Despite being a remote-only team that meets in-person only one or two times a month, this group never misses an opportunity to reconnect both online and offline. They frequently shout out their Culture Ambassadors, schedulers Pam Chapa Valencia and Roxanne Abundis, for their team’s high morale. 

“Even though we all primarily work remotely, our in-person days are some of my favorite days of the month,” said Trisha White. “We feel so uplifted, we laugh and we have fun. We love being with each other. Pam and Roxanne are our Culture Ambassadors, and they both have been amazing at planning fun things for our teams. They go above and beyond to make our team feel cohesive and included.” 

“Pam and Roxanne have been leaders in creating a fun environment and supportive culture for us,” added Lydia Sharkey. “Whether it’s creating care packages or making sure we all have a good time when we see each other in person, they deserve a lot of credit.” 

As this team excels in their roles and foster a culture rooted in kindness and gratitude, we can trust that Renown’s surgeries and procedures will continue to thrive, and patients will continue to benefit from their diligent efforts and commitment to efficiency. 

“We make the magic happen!” closes Mary Gray. 

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