20 Questions

(PHOTO BY NEAL BRUNS)

Sue Ehinger

By Bonnie Blackburn
Sue Ehinger has been a little busy lately. As Chief Operating Officer of Parkview Hospital, she oversees two locations, starting with the main hospital on Randallia Drive. But she’s also overseeing the operations of the new Parkview Regional Medical Center off Dupont Road set to open March 17. Many of the main hospital’s treatment centers will move north, but the Randallia campus will remain as a “community” hospital, with ER, obstetric and mental health services.

 

What attracted you to the medical field?
My mom is a nurse, my sister is a nurse, so I was raised in that environment. I started out in nuclear medicine as a radiology technician. I was so excited doing my first injection, I called my friends up and told them I got to stick a needle in somebody! You know, if you walk into some place and it feels like home, that’s the place for you.


What will the opening of the new hospital do to your morning commute?
It makes it easier! I get on the interstate and just drive.


What’s the coolest thing in the new hospital?
TUGS. It’s a robot that looks like the head of a vacuum cleaner. It has a long bed that you can (attach) a medication cart or food cart to and it tugs it through the facility to wherever you program it to deliver.


What does the opening of the Parkview Regional Medical Center mean for the future of the Randallia campus?
It will be a general hospital. We have acute care, post-acute care will be here. In-patient rehab, continuing care, therapy services. We’ll continue to have a full-service ER, and (obstetrics) services will be here. It will resemble a community hospital. And the other exciting thing is the Education and Research Consortium will be here.


Tell us more about Parkview’s role in medical education in the region.
It’s vital. It’s vital to health care in general. It’s essential to our community. The training and the coaching, the new technologies students are learning, are vital to the region.


What about Parkview’s role in the community?
We are the community’s hospital. Our mission is to provide you with health care. We also want to  prevent you having to be here. That’s where our “Don’t Text and Drive” program and the other preventative care programs come in. It’s a constant message.


What’s going on between the Randallia campus and its neighbor, the Veterans Administration medical facility just down the street?
They provide rehab, senior care and mental health services, and that’s what we’ll also be providing at Randallia. We’re looking at how we can work together on those. There’s a lot more we’d like to be able to do with them.


In the 1950s, when Parkview moved to the Randallia campus, it was accused of “abandoning” downtown for what was then the suburbs. Is that what’s happening now?
Absolutely not! The Randallia campus will be different, but only for the better. We’ll still have all the services of a community hospital. And it’s economic development, because of the Education Consortium. We have Trine’s physical therapy program. We have counseling with Huntington College and (the University of) Saint Francis. We have mental health (training). To me, when you have 1,000-2,000 students on this campus, you talk about keeping (the facility) energized.


What’s the most fun part of planning a new hospital?
Bringing back new ideas and implementing them.


What’s the biggest threat to people’s health today?
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.


What’s your secret talent?
Tap dancing. When I was growing up, I wasn’t a girly-girl, but I loved watching Fred Astaire. So my mom said I could get some (tap shoes). And then I got into clogging! I still have my tap shoes in my cedar chest.


If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
My (great) Grandpa Kreigh. I never got to meet him. He was my dad’s grandpa, and he raised my dad. I wish I could have met him and see what he was really like. He only had one arm, and he had to overcome so many obstacles.


And you’re a grandmother now.  How has that affected you?
Yes! Braydan Adam. He was born July 23. It’s so fascinating how he’s learning to crawl and sit up.


You grew up in Roanoke in the country. What’s your favorite Fort Wayne memory?
Wolf & Dessauer. Going there at the holiday season to look at the windows. Then we’d go to Murphy’s and have one of those wonderful sugary doughnuts.


What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
“You’re not college material.” I’ll never forget it. My high school guidance counselor said that to me.


That still stings, doesn’t it?
Sure! Did I like high school? No, not that much. But I remember her saying ‘You’re not college material.’ On the other hand, I thought, ‘I’ll show you.’ Anyone is college material. You just have to find what’s right for you.


Parkview’s been very involved in the community, most visibly in Parkview Field. What’s your favorite thing about the ballpark?
I love seeing all the people there. I love to watch the game; it’s very exciting. But it’s the people, the families there. It’s a great place for families. I’m anxious to take Braydan to his first game!


What life lessons have you passed on to your children?
To do what makes you happy. Choose the career that makes you happy. Don’t stay in a job you don’t like because you think you have to. I hope I have also taught them to be generous to others.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
I’m a workaholic. But I love what I do, and it’s hard for me to stop.


What makes you happy?
To watch someone do something, to watch them grow and be a leader. To watch my kids succeed.

Posted: Wed, 04/25/2012 - 12:29 pm
Last updated: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:09 pm