Donna Johnson, electronic medical records (EMR) specialist, who was born and raised near Uniontown has spent her adult life living and working throughout the U.S. and overseas. Akron has always been home, however. And Akron Children’s, where she became a nurse 4 decades ago, has always been her favorite place to work. At Children’s, she gained skills that led to landing her “best job ever” on information services’ Epic team, enabling her to teach others while learning new innovations.
On June 28, Donna retires from Children’s. She is relocating to southern California, trading her colleagues’ smiles for her grandchildren’s hugs. After many adventures in multiple locations, full-time grandparenting is an activity Donna looks forward to getting her arms around.
What brought you to Children’s?
I worked here twice. The first time, I was in high school and wanted to be a math teacher. However, I noticed some kids didn’t try hard and realized I wouldn’t like that. Instead, I participated in a nurses shadow program and loved it. I attended Akron General’s nursing school and did a rotation at Children’s, where I realized my passion to work with children and make a difference in their lives. I was hired out of school and worked here for 7 years.
The second time, I returned to the area after 21 years as a military dependent. I applied at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP) Twinsburg location. Gaylene McAllister, who had been one of my nursing supervisors previously, worked there. She said, “Okay, when can you start?” It was the easiest interview I ever had!
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
When I started, I was a nurse on a floor that housed adolescent surgical/orthopedics and the intensive care unit. After I moved away, I continued working as a nurse. When Children’s rehired me, it was as a nurse. The hospital was implementing electronic medical records, and my location was one of the first to use EMRs. I became proficient, and when Children’s needed help rolling out EMRs to all ACHP locations, I took the job. Now, I train physicians and nurse practitioners at ACHP’s 28 locations.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Helping our ACHP providers transition to the EMR systems, which enhances their ability to deliver quality care safely. My nursing background helps out a lot.
How has Children’s changed since you started here?
The biggest transition is the implementation of electronic health records, which gives us the ability to collaborate across venues, while providing the best quality care possible and ensuring the safety of our patients, their families and our employees.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Helping patients and their families navigate the unpleasant, confusing or scary times. Second, helping ACHP providers and staff provide quality care safely in this new technological health care era.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
It’s twofold. Every newborn I’ve held, hand that sought mine for comfort and smile from a patient’s family to our staff has made an impression. The other are the ways senior management connects with employees. For instance, my phone rang one morning. It was Mike Trainer, vice president and chief financial officer, who said he met my sister while she was working at Akron General and what a great job she did. We then met over coffee to discuss my thoughts about Children’s. My other memories are recognition and acknowledgement from people like Roger Sherman (past president of Children’s) and Bill Considine (CEO emeritus); the open-door policies of Cindy Dormo, vice president, pediatrics, and Ben Teske, director in pediatrics; and Sherrie David, director of EMR services, who hired me.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
The new legacy I’ll build with my 4 grandchildren when I relocate to California at the end of June.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Walking with my dog enjoying nature, spending time with friends and reading a great book.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Maya Angelou said it best: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make each person – from patient to employee – feel loved and important!
What couldn’t you live without?
My faith and relationship with God.
What’s the last book your read?
I read the Bible daily. I read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama and “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins at the same time.
What’s the last movie you saw?
“The Greatest Showman”