Sue Lunsford has come a long way since joining King's Daughters Medical Center seven years ago.
"She was a team player when she started, and showed leadership skills immediately," says Fred Jackson, chief executive officer of the 547-bed Ashland, Ky., hospital. "She was promoted from director to vice president within three years."
Her leadership skills were demonstrated when Lunsford, 39, helped create the subsidiary Kingsbrook Lifecare Center, a 157-bed long-term-care facility, even after being faced with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis in 2000. "She said 'It's not going to get the better of me, I'm going to beat this,' " Jackson says.
Lunsford, who is recovering from injuries in a car accident, was unavailable for an interview.
While working on the Kingsbrook project, her cancer went into remission, and she overcame obstacles in order to get the center up and running by May 2002.
As vice president of long-term care at King's Daughters, Lunsford has begun programs to benefit the elderly community, including an acute-care rehabilitation unit, and pain, spine and wound-treatment centers. Since becoming the administrator of Kingsbrook Lifecare Center, Lunsford has won the Administrator of the Year Award and the center was voted Facility of the Year-both from the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities-for 2006.
"She never takes credit for her accomplishments," Jackson says. "She says it's because of the efforts of her team members."
Because of her motivation and willingness to overcome obstacles, Lunsford has led her facility to a 99% occupancy rate, with customer satisfaction scores in the 96th percentile nationally in 2005.
"Sue is a motivator and a visionary," Jackson says. "She never settles for the status quo."
After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in speech language pathology from the University of Illinois, she worked for three years as a speech language pathologist for 324-bed Swedish Covenant Hospital, Chicago. She then went on to become a licensed nursing home administrator in Kentucky, where she was a director of rehabilitation services for Hillhaven Corp. and later a program director for RehabCare Group in St. Louis.
In 1999, Lunsford joined King's Daughters as director of rehabilitation services, where among her many accomplishments, she developed and coordinated the stroke center program. She also secured contracts with local school districts to provide programs in speech and language, audiology, occupational therapy and physical therapy for students.
After Lunsford oversaw construction of a nursing home while battling a life-threatening illness, Jackson says there is nothing Lunsford can't do. "She's the type of person that whatever she touches becomes a better project and outcome," Jackson says.