Stewart Memorial hospital announces board changes

LAKE CITY — The Stewart Memorial Community Hospital board of directors has announced the retirement of longtime board member Deb Lightner.

After serving 12 years, Lightner said she recalls many accomplishments, and highlights a few specific achievements.

“One area I am most proud of is the shift in culture at SMCH,” she said. “The board supported, encouraged and participated in efforts to elevate the hospital from good to great. We focused on quality measures and increasing our commitment to every patient having an exceptional experience. Our medical team, support staff and leadership did an outstanding job of educating peers about the purpose behind every effort. Whether it was increasing hand hygiene or reducing medication errors, the staff worked hard to meet goals because they want to do the right thing.”

Another highlight is the partnership and affiliation with UnityPoint Health.

“The board studied this opportunity for quite some time to make sure the relationship would be a good fit,” said Lightner. “We gained many benefits by linking with UnityPoint to benefit patients, like access to more specialists and group purchasing cost savings. We were also able to remain independent with our own board of directors and decision makers. It’s been positive all around.”

Replacing Lightner on the board is Shelia Berger, of Lohrville, who has been involved with the organization for more than 30 years. When the hospice volunteer program started at SMCH, Berger attended the very first volunteer training and continues serving in that role. She also volunteers in the hospital gift shop each month. In addition to volunteering at SMCH, Berger was employed as a certified nursing assistant at the hospital for over five years.

Berger’s volunteer efforts stretch beyond SMCH. In her community of Lohrville, she was a volunteer EMT for the ambulance service for 20 years, served on the library board for more than 15 years, and is currently on the housing board. She also helps children in need by serving as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer, a role she has done for the past nine years and earned her state recognition. In 2013, she received the Governor’s Volunteer Award from Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Berger was honored with a Length of Service Award by the Iowa Child Advocacy board.