Good is rarely good enough, and opportunities for improvement are never lacking. Those are the philosophies that drive Melissa Fraser, board chair of West Park Hospital in Cody, Wyo. “We're always striving to be in a better place,” said Fraser, who since 2004 has been on a mission to make the critical-access hospital a standout.
The first project she championed at 25-bed West Park was higher salaries for nurses and lab workers. “To retain good personnel, you have to pay them what they are worth,” Fraser said. An internal review revealed excess spending on traveling nurses but comparatively low salaries for staff. She pushed for a pay bump, which she said not only helped reduce turnover, but also boosted employee satisfaction and improved quality and safety through the ability to provide consistent care.
Fraser, 62, is this year's recipient of the Excellence in Governance Award for small provider organizations—hospitals with 100 or fewer beds.
She brings a diverse background to her hospital leadership role. An intensive-care nurse by trade, she has experience as a head of a cardiac catheterization lab, a medical practice business manager and neurosurgery product saleswoman. She also was a nurse-EMT for riders at horse shows in the Pacific Northwest.
Her main focus has been establishing partnerships to increase access to care. The collaborations benefit residents of Cody, a town of 9,800 founded by William F. Cody (aka Buffalo Bill)—and also aid vacationers who might need the hospital's services. Millions of visitors annually flock to the sleepy towns of the Bighorn Basin for its dramatic canyons and extraordinary mountain views.