SOURCE: The News-Enterprise, April 5, 2021
Steve White began working in the health care industry right out of high school. He currently serves as assistant vice president of operations at Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown.
White spent 16 years at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville before coming to Hardin Memorial Hospital, as it was called at the time, in 1997.
“It reminded me of what Baptist East was like when I first started. It was a great place,” he said. “And here I am still, these 24 years later.”
White stayed in the industry for so long thanks to his beginnings at Baptist East. The environment there helped White see a future career in the health care industry when he was a student at the University of Louisville.
“I loved the sense of family within the hospital and have grown to love working with other people with different talents making really big things happen and feeling like I was part of it,” White, 59, said.
In his job at Baptist Health Hardin, White sees himself as someone who helps move barriers and bring people of many different talents together to create processes or services for the community.
“Steve White personifies the strong culture we enjoy at Baptist Health Hardin,” said Dennis Johnson, president and CEO of Baptist Health Hardin. “Not only does he make it his mission to do whatever it takes to complete a project on time and on budget, but he also makes it his mission to lead with enthusiasm, integrity, passion and always with a smile.”
During the pandemic, challenges in health care have increased, White said.
White said he loves people and being around them, and COVID changes that. He said teams that often work together suddenly had to work separately.
“It also brought about challenges that nobody that provides health care today has been through anything like what COVID brought to us,” he said.
White said health care professionals have been creating processes and reacting to things to make guideline and procedures work. He said often these are things they never had to do before the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of motivation in that because you realize the challenge that’s before all of us was tremendous and seemed perhaps insurmountable,” White said. “When you get moving into it, you see the progress you are beginning to make and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
White said progress becomes rewarding along the way.
He said COVID is not over, but seeing where things are today there is now a “glimmer of hope.” Administrators are starting to be able to operate the hospital more like they did before the pandemic started, he said.
Part of White’s job is being a part of that glimmer of hope in helping with the vaccine roll out at the hospital.
“For me, and every other leader here at the hospital, we talk about it often, and vaccines really were that signal to the world and our community that there can be an end to this,” he said. “I am very fortunate to be a part of a huge wonderful team that operates our vaccination clinic at the Towne Mall.”
Through the vaccine clinic, hospital staff does about 500 vaccinations a day, White said.
At first, the vaccine was released to phase 1A and he was able to see some of the doctors on the front lines of the battle moved to tears and have emotional conversations about how important the vaccine was to them and their patients.
As they moved into vaccinating those 70 and older, White said he heard the community speak of being grateful and heard stories of wanting to return to something closer to normal and seeing people they miss.
“It’s been very rewarding to see that,” he said.
White called the vaccination team he works with as kind hearted.
“Steve is an incredible partner and selfless colleague who always puts his teams first,” said Tom Carrico, vice president and chief operating officer of Baptist Health Hardin. “He embodies the servant leader mentality and keeps the organization forward facing with every project, initiative and program he oversees.”
Family, including his wife of 37 years, Lee, children Tyler and Erin, and grandchild, Baylee, are most important in White’s life
He lives close to his parents and his family worked together on a project about 15 years ago.
“It was one of the best projects I’ve ever initiated in my personal life,” he said.
The family has property in Burnside outside of Lake Cumberland and they tent camped there as a child. He decided to build a cabin on the property. White studied for about two years about how to build a log cabin and then built it with family that came in on the weekends to help.
“For about 15 months, I had my immediate family, parents and sisters together about every weekend during that time,” White said. “Had I not done that we wouldn’t have been together as much.”
He’s also proud of his Baptist Health Hardin family and called them “spectacular.” The family culture there means a lot to him.
“We spend a lot of time at work and it’s really a blessing to enjoy what you do and enjoy those you work with,” White said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.