Hospitals shouldn’t be cold, impersonal places where patient and family relations take a back seat. That’s the philosophy of Catherine Hottendorf, the new executive director of Franklin Hospital.
Hottendorf, a registered nurse, took the reigns of the North Valley Stream medical center two months ago. She comes with more than 40 years of experience in the health care field, including a prior stint at Franklin Hospital as the nursing executive.
“I came back,” she said. “I love Franklin. It’s really a community hospital.”
Franklin is the primary hospital for much of the area including Valley Stream, Elmont, Franklin Square and Malverne. Hottendorf wants to reach out to these communities and beyond to let people know about the services the hospital has to offer. They should know, she said, that Franklin is consistently rated No. 1 in orthopedic surgery, including joint, hip and knee replacements.
The hospital is also known for its wound care and hyperbaric chamber, Hottendorf explained, and its hospice unit.
She also wants Franklin Hospital to be thought of as a warm and inviting facility, where patients feel cared for and their family members feel welcomed. “It’s really all about customer service,” Hottendorf said. “Patients come first. If you treat patients as you want to be treated, you can’t go wrong.”
This practice, she said, must start at the top with her setting the example. She said exemplary patient care is the philosophy of the entire North Shore-LIJ health system. Many people are frightened when the enter a hospital, Hottendorf explained, and the staff must do its best to make them feel comfortable.
Hottendorf is one of four registered nurses to be leading a hospital in the North Shore-LIJ system, which she said is a growing trend within the past decade. Nurses, she explained, are the largest of any group of employees in a hospital.
She began her nursing career at Meadowbrook Hospital in East Meadow, now the Nassau University Medical Center, and remembers moving into the tower when it first opened in 1970. Her career there spanned 27 years before moving on to Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx to serve as chief operating officer. After working at Harlem Hospital, she briefly retired before coming back to work at Beth Israel as a financial officer.
In 2002, she came to Franklin to head up the nursing division, a position she held for your years before moving on to South Side Hospital in Bay Shore. A few months ago, she was asked to come back to Franklin as its leader when Executive Director Joseph Manopella took a vice president position in the health system.
“This opportunity came up and I was happy to take it,” Hottendorf said. “It’s a new challenge.” Her responsibilities include managing the hospital’s finances, operations, quality, staff performance and patient satisfaction, as well as day-to-day administration.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in community health and a master’s degree in business administration. Hottendorf said she likes the management aspect of health care and enjoys leading a staff. She said wants her employees to enjoy coming to work everyday because a happy staff means happy patients.
Her expectations for her staff members are high, especially in the area of patient and family relations. She also wants to ensure that her employees have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.
Hottendorf said she doesn’t mind being a little bit competitive, and will use that as motivation to make the hospital great. “I want to make Franklin the best hospital,” she said. “I want to be No. 1.”