Penick named chief nurse at Carroll County hospital

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By Sharon Graves


The News-Democrat

Lisa Penick, the new chief nursing officer at Carroll County Memorial Hospital, has a long history with the hospital – in fact, she was born there.

With a mother, a sister and a daughter-in-law who also are nurses, Penick apparently has nursing in her blood. She has been a nurse for 27 years, since the age of 19, and has spent 21 of those years at CCMH.

Penick tells the story about how she came to be born at CCMH to all new hires as they participate in a one-day orientation at the hospital.

“My parents [Ronald Harmon and Diane Leach Harmon] lived in Indiana when I was born, and my mom – a proud Kentucky lady – had my dad drive all the way to Carrollton when it was time for me to be born, because she didn’t want her kids to be Hoosiers,” Penick said. That line, she said, usually gets a howl of laughter, and she uses it to show how culture can shape everyday decisions.

Penick started at CCMH in 1987 as a staff nurse in the home health department. She later became a supervisor and then  director of that department before she joined the hospital staff seven years ago, most recently working as quality risk manager. She said she will keep that position, along with her new duties as CNO, until it is filled.

Penick succeeds former CNO Sandi Alexander, who resigned from the post in April, according to hospital Chief Executive Officer Kanute Rarey. He said candidates applied for the position from as far away as Georgia.

“Lisa is a very high-quality individual who is very energetic and dedicated to CCMH,” Rarey said. “I am very excited to have her in the clinical role of the hospital.”

In her new capacity, Penick is in charge of all nursing departments and other ancillary departments in the hospital related to patient care. Though only three weeks in, she said she has definite ideas on what she would like to see accomplished.

“I would like to see the hospital move forward,” Penick said. “We have been over some rocky roads recently, but I would like to bring the hospital’s image forward in the community. I also want to promote customer service, because at the center of everything we do is the patient.”

Compassion is at the top of the list of requirements Penick looks for when hiring hospital staff. “I can teach you skills or techniques, but I can’t teach you how to care,” she said, adding that she is very dedicated the patients. “I care about the people I take care of, and that’s what I want out of my staff.”

Penick has earned several professional awards: In 1993, she was named Professional of the Year for the state of Kentucky in the Home Health Association. In 2004, she was named Nurse of the Year for CCMH.

“My mother instilled in me the attitude to never give up,” Penick said. She said her mother was “ahead of her time,” going back to school to become a nurse after she had children.

Penick’s parents were missionaries with the Wesleyan church; they moved the family to an Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, S.D., when Penick was 10. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing at 19 from Oglala Sioux Community College there. Later, after she had her own children, she returned to school to earn her bachelor’s degree – like her mother.

A resident of Trimble County for the past 27 years, she and her husband, Barry, have three children.