After serving for seven years as chief nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Denise Claussen, is taking on the other roles and duties the hospital fulfills in Kaufman.
Claussen is the hospital’s new vice president and chief operating and nursing officer. She has been chief nursing officer at the hospital since 2011, leading a team of 95 nurses and overseeing the hospital’s wound clinic, pain clinic and pharmacy. As the hospital’s chief operating officer, she replaced Patsy Youngs, who retired as hospital president earlier this year.
While she knew the ins and outs of the medical side of the hospital, Claussen said she’s been learning about quality control, risk management, and other business aspects of running a healthcare facility.
“It’s a fun process,” she said of the learning opportunity. “I’m getting my hands around it.”
Kaufman is one of 18 hospitals owned by Texas Health Resources. As a non-profit, THR runs surgical centers, joint ventures and emergency rooms throughout the region. It’s part of her job to oversee healthcare delivery to local patients, then make sure they receive follow-up care so they’re not returning to the emergency room repeatedly.
As the area’s only emergency room, Claussen said patients with a medical emergency should come to Kaufman for initial treatment, then her staff can get patients into a higher level of care if needed, starting treatment en route to other hospitals.
And while Texas Presbyterian Hospital no longer delivers babies, there is a neo-natal transportation team to get mothers in labor to a nearby hospital. It was hard to keep the right number of specialists on staff locally to provide obstetrical services, she explained.
Claussen said where Texas Presbyterian excels is acute medical treatment in its emergency room for broken bones, unexpected illness, or after-hours emergencies.
“Come to us,” she said. Normal waits in the emergency room are an hour or less. She is proud a new $25 million magnetic resonance imaging machine will be available this fall, as well. She views Texas Health Kaufman as an untapped community resource, but once patients are treated locally here, “then they come back,” she said.
Texas Health Presbyterian employs 250 people in the Kaufman location.
“We’re a lean staff,” she said. “We know how to do everything.”
The hospital operates a help clinic for those with chronic diseases such as heart conditions, diabetes and cardiac disease. For $10 a month, patients get help with long-term care and work with a dietitian and registered nurse to learn healthier eating habits. Sometimes, she explained, helping a patient is something as small as providing a window air conditioner or a recliner so a patient can keep a leg elevated.
Claussen has more than 30 years of experience in nursing and administration, beginning her career as a staff nurse at Community General Hospital in Sterling, Illinois. Over the years, she has worked in nursing leadership roles in Illinois, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Before joining Texas Health Kaufman, she served as senior director of perioperative services at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. She was also previously administrative director of surgical services at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.
She is active in the community, serving as parish nurse at Four Mile Lutheran Church in Mabank and as a board member of the Trinity Valley Community College in Kaufman. She also provides teaching and clinical assistance with the Genesis Center and St. Luke’s health ministry, and she volunteers at Norville Center, a children’s emergency shelter. She is also a frequent public speaker and consultant on surgery innovations and administration. She received a master’s in nursing from the University of Dubuque and a bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Tampa.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman began its relationship with Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas in 1973 with the concept of having a local hospital in Kaufman. Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman’s initial organizational meeting was held in 1976, with construction starting in 1977. The hospital opened in 1979 with 50 beds. Today, it has 91 beds, two professional buildings and a range of services that continue to grow.
Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman has been part of the Texas Health Resources family of hospitals since 1997. On January 1, 2009, the hospital’s name changed to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman to reflect that it is a part of the largest health care system in North Texas.