Trena Hall

ARH Women in Leadership Series: Trena Hall

The women in leadership for Appalachian Regional Healthcare are a diverse group of strong, accomplished, intelligent women. Despite having these characteristics in common, each of them is unique, taking on a completely different set of responsibilities and challenges when they walk through the doors of ARH each day. From administrative responsibilities, to nursing and caring for patients, to the creation of new initiatives allowing ARH’s reach to grow, these women are nothing short of incredible.

The Director of Corporate Projects, Trena Hall is one of the main players in the expansion of ARH throughout eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia. Her 40 plus years at ARH have fostered a passion and commitment to fulfilling the organization’s mission.

Trena’s journey with ARH began as a nurse at Whitesburg ARH Hospital, where she spent the first 13 years of her career. Her work ethic and success as a nurse prompted ARH leadership to promote Trena to a management role. From there she took on several other leadership roles, including Assistant Director of Nursing, Assistant Administrator and CEO at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center and CEO of McDowell ARH Hospital. She has implemented a number of programs and key services during her time at ARH including the Open Heart Program, Inpatient Rehab Program, and Cancer Center in Hazard.

“I often tell my husband that I feel really blessed,” Trena says. “I absolutely love my job. It’s so wonderful to bring a group of very diverse people together and help them achieve their goals. I work with everyone from nurses and doctors all the way to construction workers and engineers. It’s truly rewarding being able to see that final result knowing this new or improved healthcare service is going to make a difference to patient care, the people who work in those environments and the entire community. You can’t put a price on that.”

There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the employees of ARH. Many of the women in leadership, including Trena, said their favorite thing about ARH is the people they get to work with every day.

“I can’t begin to tell you how rich my life has been because of the people who have been a part of it along the way,” Trena says. “Any organization, I don’t care what kind it is, is only as good as it’s people and it’s mission. I believe in the mission of ARH, I think the services we provide in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia are critical to our communities. It’s our community, the people we serve and the employees who make it a pleasure to come to work every day. When you work with wonderful people it’s easy to be happy at work.”

Trena recalls an instance when she was out in the community and an individual she cared for during her time as a nurse recognized her.

“He said, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I had no idea who the gentleman was, but he remembered me,” Trena says. “The gentleman had been in a terrible accident and I remember that we thought he was going to die. He remembered me because he remembers me telling him to hang on. It wasn’t necessarily what I did for him that he remembered, it was that I talked to him, and he needed that. He needed someone to tell him to fight.”

This encounter illustrates the amount of impact healthcare workers can have on a daily basis.

“It goes to the crux of what we do. It’s about that man and all the others like him. I’m just one little piece in this huge puzzle and I think that’s what matters.”

Trena’s career success is, in part, due to her parent’s encouragement throughout her life. They served as her biggest mentors because of their optimism, encouragement, and determination.

“I can remember being very young and my dad telling me I could be anything I wanted to be…I graduated from high school in 1974 and I didn’t realize at the time, because my father was so open about us doing whatever we wanted to do, that gender might make a difference in what I could do in a career,” Trena says. “My parents were very focused on us developing a personal level of integrity, being honest and open, working hard and communicating well. Those things have helped shape my life and my career.”

Trena passed along this same sense of perseverance to her children, and now her grandchildren who are nine and 14-years-old.

“The thing that matters most in life is having a strong faith and I try very hard to put God first in my life and trust what He has planned for us,” she says. “I’ve talked to them about the importance of the kind of person they become. All the money and power in the world won’t make them happy. What makes a person truly successful is leaving your mark, making a difference in the world and doing it with joy.”

When she is not working Trena loves to spend time with her kids and grandchildren at the lake, a place she says they stumbled upon almost by accident. ARH is something like a family business for the Hall’s. When her son was hired as Assistant Administrator at Middlesboro ARH Hospital his family moved to accommodate his career change. Trena says they would travel through Powell Valley on their way to visit and fell in love with the lake and surrounding area.

“I remember thinking it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and I’ve been a few places,” she says. “I’ve been to Alaska and it was gorgeous, but I just thought that valley was beautiful. I found my little slice of heaven and I think we’ll probably retire there.”

Although her son has since been promoted, Trena and her husband continue to visit Powell Valley every chance they get.

When asked what advice she has for a young woman interested in entering the medical field she had this to say:

“I think they really need to do their homework and make sure they understand the field they’re getting into. If they’re going into a clinical role they need to feel a passion for what they do because it’s a tough job. If they’re going into healthcare administration they need to understand that healthcare administration is arguably one of the toughest business leadership roles you can take. There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you are really determined and never give up. Perform the best you can, be the best you can be at what you do and be willing to work hard.”

Ellen Wright

ARH Women in Leadership Series: Ellen Wright

The women in leadership for Appalachian Regional Healthcare are a diverse group of strong, accomplished, intelligent women. Despite having these characteristics in common, each of them is unique, taking on a completely different set of responsibilities and challenges when they walk through the doors of ARH each day. From administrative responsibilities, to nursing and caring for patients, to the creation of new initiatives allowing ARH’s reach to grow, these women are nothing short of incredible.

For over 30 years Ellen Wright has worked for ARH in a number of nursing positions, from student nurse to ICU staff nurse, Community Chief Nursing Officer and Community CEO at Whitesburg ARH and now System Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Nursing for ARH. According to Ellen, in this position she provides assistance, oversite, development and implementation of all nursing services including policy procedure, education, staffing, implementation of new processes and evaluation of care that is provided. She works with the board of trustees, medical staff and all other departments to help coordinate care across the system.

Ellen boasts an impressive collegiate resume. Soon after graduating from high school she began classes to become an LPN and worked in that position for four years. She then attended Hazard Community and Technical College where she earned her Registered Nursing License. Finally, she earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing and her Family Nurse Practitioner Certification from the University of Kentucky.

“I think my interest in nursing started with my grandmother who lived with us,” Ellen says. “She had a lot of health conditions, so I helped my mother take care of her. Seeing the struggle my mother went through caring for her really motivated and inspired me to want to help others. Having resources and nursing professionals in our community to help care for family is really invaluable.”

As System Chief Nursing Officer, Ellen does not interact with patients in the same capacity she did as a staff nurse. While she loves working with patients to offer the best care possible, she was interested in advancing her career to make a larger impact at ARH. As she advanced to nursing leadership for ARH she had the chance to learn more about the various nursing roles throughout the system, other disciplines, and how they work to improve the quality of care across the continuum.

“My favorite thing about working for ARH is the people I work with,” she says. “They all have such a heart for their family, friends, neighbors and each other. It’s a very caring organization and their mission aligns with my goals, to improve health, making our community a better place.”

Talking to any ARH employee it is clear, this organization loves each other and the community with everything they have. Ellen says ARH employees care for their patients as if they are their own family.

“I respect my coworkers so much because I know when they’re at work they’re there for the patient, regardless of their personal trials,” she says. “They go above and beyond what they’re expected to do. I’ve seen staff take money out of their own pocket to give to a patient’s family, I’ve seen them bring back food when they go out for their lunch break, I’ve even seen staff visit funeral homes because they grew so close to a patient. It’s just part of the culture and the very reason I love them.”

Working in the medical field for over 30 years, Ellen understands the importance of having strong mentors to lean on for guidance and advice. She is proud to say she has had many different mentors throughout her life and has learned something important from each of them.

“Of course I have spiritual leaders, but I also have people who are my cheerleaders, like my mother who always said I could do anything I set my mind to and my father whose work ethic and love for others I admired,” she says. “I had nursing leaders like Geraldine McDonald, who was the epitome of nursing leadership. She always wanted to do what was best for the patient. As a staff nurse I always felt like she supported me and had my back. My goal was always to be a leader like her.”

Ellen is able to maintain a work-life balance thanks to the loving support of her husband Tim, son Taylor and daughter-in-law Kristen, who are also part of the nursing community, and two granddaughters McKenzie and Alivia. Ellen’s free time is spent with her granddaughters, working with her church’s youth ministry, being outdoors and traveling with her husband.

Her career is a prime example of the type of growth and development available in this field. When asked what advice she had to offer to a young woman interested in entering the healthcare field, she had this to say:

“It is absolutely the land of opportunity. There are so many options and there are always jobs available.”

Dr. Maria Braman

ARH Women in Leadership Series: Dr. Maria Braman

The women in leadership at Appalachian Regional Healthcare are a diverse group of strong, accomplished, intelligent women. Despite having these characteristics in common, each of them is unique, taking on a completely different set of responsibilities and challenges when they walk through the doors of ARH each day. From administrative responsibilities, to nursing and caring for patients, to the creation of new initiatives allowing ARH’s reach to grow, these women are nothing short of incredible.

Dr. Maria Braman has had an extensive career in medicine that has led her to become the Chief Medical Officer at ARH. Her mother was a doctor and from a young age Dr. Braman was exposed to the healthcare field, cultivating a passion for serving patients.

She obtained her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where she was able to explore several different medical concentrations before pursuing pathology. She completed her pathology residency at MedStar Washington Hospital Center as well as an additional breast pathology residency at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Braman says she entered the healthcare field during a time when a work-life balance was almost unheard of. While she was most interested in the surgery field, she chose to focus on pathology, allowing her to have a family while still aiding in the process of diagnosis after surgery. Before joining the ARH team, she served as the Vice President of Medical Affairs for St Peter’s Hospital in Helena, MT. Prior to that she was chair of the pathology department and medical director at St. Peter’s Hospital and Mountain West Pathology in Helena, Montana. There she utilized her training in breast pathology to open the first nationally accredited breast program in Montana, something she is still extremely proud of.

“[Creating this breast program] was really driven by a desire to improve the delivery of breast care. It provided me the opportunity to utilize my expertise in breast pathology to improve patient care on a broad scale,” Dr. Braman says. “It was very exciting to me and it opened my eyes to a whole other part of medicine where I didn’t just do direct patient care. This is when I was first bitten by the administrative bug. I was helping people from a broader perspective by developing a whole system involving multiple members of the healthcare team to bring better care to patients.”

In addition to this work, she served as the President and CEO of Braman Labs, LLC, a women’s health molecular diagnostics laboratory. In her current role as Chief Medical Officer, the most senior medical administrative position within ARH, she represents all hospitals across the system. She focuses on integrating medicine and quality of care into management while implementing the strategic vision and goals of the organization.

“When I’m sitting behind the microscope I can only help one patient at a time,” she says. “From an administrative perspective I’m able to help literally thousands of people per day. That’s just where my passion led me, and fortunately the opportunities followed.”

In an effort to advance her already impressive career, Dr. Braman graduated from Notre Dame University in May 2018 with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). She says completing this degree has provided an additional layer of exposure and expertise complimenting her move from practicing medicine to healthcare administration. This new knowledge will allow her to continue to excel at ARH, an organization she has grown passionate about in her time there.

“I really love my job here at ARH because there are so many people every day that we are able to impact, making a difference in the care that they receive,” Dr. Braman says. “There is a lot of opportunity to grow, develop and improve [healthcare] here. I believe that ARH has the opportunity to really make a national name for itself in rural healthcare and stand out as leaders on a national stage. There’s so much richness in our network of 12 hospitals and 80 clinics, we have so many thoughts and ideas and people working together to bring high-level care to the community. I love the opportunity, energy and commitment ARH has to the community and we’re at a point where we are launching. It’s really exciting.”

Her love for ARH runs deeper than her job alone. In mid-2018 her grandmother who lives in Maryland fell ill. Dr. Braman’s family alerted her of the poor care her grandmother was receiving and she had to intervene. She immediately jumped in her car and drove to Maryland where she arranged an ambulance to transport her grandmother to ARH.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the care that she received in our hospital and the genuine love that came from everyone in the community, whether it was the nursing staff, the janitor or the dietary team dropping off food,” Dr. Braman says. “She was so comfortable and felt so safe, a stark difference to the care she was receiving in Maryland. Watching what ARH does for patients be done so beautifully and seeing my grandmother transition from this world to the next peacefully, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

In addition to her grandmother, Dr. Braman’s family is full of incredibly talented women. She says her mother has served as her biggest role model and mentor throughout her life. Her mother came to the United States from Trinidad where she was one of only three women in her medical school class. Now, at the age of 74 Dr. Braman says her mother is traveling the world, living her life to the fullest.

“She has paved her way, she has energy and she loves life at 74,” Dr. Braman says. “She’s a dynamite woman and I’m very proud to be her daughter.”

Dr. Braman and her husband, Benjamin have three beautiful children, one biological daughter, Katie, and two adopted children, Jaylissa and Kanye who are biological brother and sister. Much like herself, her three children have been exposed to the healthcare field from a young age.

Family is extremely important to Dr. Braman, and she has always strived for the work-life balance that Pathology originally promised. Her passion for her work led her to pursue projects like developing the breast program in Montana in her free time; however, she has always taken time for her family and even involved them in her work when possible.

“I realized, if you enjoy what you do, you keep your energy for it. It’s when things are a drag that they’re hard, but when you enjoy what you do and you’re passionate about it it’s not so much about balance as it is about having fun. I love being able to share that with my kids.”

Her career in the medical field has offered many lessons and a vast amount of knowledge that she is excited to share with future healthcare professionals. When asked what advice she has for a young woman interested in entering the healthcare field she had this to say:

“Do what you’re passionate about. Your passion carries you a long way. That’s the difference between being average and being great, do it with passion, don’t be afraid and take risks. Love what you do.”

ARH is lucky and humbled to have such an incredible, accomplished leader paving the way for future healthcare professionals and helping to further advance medicine in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.