As a hospital trustee, Leila Maring doesn't just focus on big, important issues. She cheerfully does whatever job needs to be done.
Maring, 80, has been a trustee of 51-bed Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center for eight years, but she's been an active volunteer at the hospital for 16 years. In those dual roles, she's both delivered mail to Grinnell's rural satellite clinics and met with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
"Leila is one of my elder heroes," says Todd Linden, Grinnell Regional's president and chief executive officer. "She is vivacious and bubbly, but she is on a mission. She is someone who is driven to make the world a better place."
For all her accomplishments, Maring was chosen as Modern Healthcare's 2006 Trustee of the Year for small healthcare organizations -- those with fewer than 250 beds or less than $75 million in annual revenue.
Maring not only gives of her time but of her personal financial resources as well. During her lifetime, she's contributed more than $33,000 to the medical center.
Her selfless nature led her to the town of Grinnell in 1948. While Maring was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, her mother was in a horrible automobile accident in Grinnell. Already a registered nurse, Maring dropped out of school and took a job at Grinnell Community Hospital, which later became Grinnell Regional. The move allowed Maring to care for her mother, who recovered and lived until 1990.
Maring never left Grinnell. She married a farmer, raised three children and held various positions in nursing, including jobs in home health and hospice care.
Since her retirement in 1990, Maring has focused all of her energy and enthusiasm on volunteer work. "There is not a week that goes by that I am not (at the hospital) at least two or three times," Maring says.
As a volunteer, she's been involved in numerous new initiatives. She was one of the first volunteers to haul mail to the clinics and now fills in when she is needed. She also was one of the first volunteers to deliver meals from the kitchen at Grinnell Regional to Caring Adults, an adult day-care facility run by the hospital. She continues to transport meals every Friday.
Maring also helped launch an education program for senior citizens six years ago. The popular sessions -- which average between 80 and 100 seniors each week -- cover a variety of topics. For example, the local fire chief spoke at a recent session about how to develop a fire evacuation plan, taking into account losses in hearing, vision and mobility. Maring "shows up every Monday, and she helps set up the program," Linden says.
As a Grinnell Regional board member, her expertise in nursing has been invaluable, particularly as a member of the quality committee. "She helps in interpreting some of the surveys," says Board Chairwoman Debby Pohlson
One example: The quality committee was puzzled by a seemingly low number of patients who received a vaccine for pneumonia after being hospitalized for pneumonia. Maring explained that the number looked low because a lot of the patients had probably already had a vaccine in their doctor's office, but that this piece of information would only show up in the hospital's medical record if the physician put the information in his notes. Maring suggested that the hospital take it upon itself to add documentation about whether the patients had already received the vaccine.
Another role she's performed as a trustee is as an advocate for rural hospitals. She's traveled to both Des Moines and Washington to press for increases in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. She also lobbies in Grinnell, where she's occasionally seen talking to Iowa state Rep. Danny Carroll. "We happen to attend the same church, so every once in a while, I will tap him on the shoulder," Maring says.