Director (recently retired), Chinook Regional Hospital
Emergency/Critical Care/Medicine/Cardio-respiratory/Stroke/Trauma/Bed Utilization
Diane Shanks emulates what nursing is, service to others. Her leadership, her care and her commitment to nursing has left a mark on emergency nursing practice in southern Alberta.
With her mother providing an early influence, Diane knew from an early age what she wanted to do.
“I’ve always felt compelled to help those that were suffering,” says Diane, “nursing gave me the opportunity to do this every day.” Since graduating, her career has revolved around all facades of a hospital and in a variety of roles – from hands-on at the bedside, to management and administration.
In 1989, Diane became the department manager at the newly opened Lethbridge Regional Hospital, then she became the Emergency Critical Care Director in 1992. She led the health region in obtaining level 3 trauma accreditation status, primary stroke centre status and psychiatric facility designation status.
In 2010, Diane received special recognition from Alberta Health Services for her leadership in H1N1 planning, coordination and response. Southern Alberta was particularly affected by the virus. “This was perhaps the most challenging ‘clinical’ situation I have managed in my career,” recalls Diane. “It challenged not only our clinical capacities and resources, but our staff and human resources as well on a daily basis for weeks. I was amazed at the enthusiasm, commitment and resiliency of our staff in dealing with this pandemic and it was because of this that we were so successful in our overall management of the crises.”
In the early 1990s, advanced cardiac life support and trauma nursing courses, now considered standard, weren’t available in Diane’s community. She was instrumental in bringing these courses to Lethbridge and eventually building capacity in her own staff to deliver the courses locally. She later expanded delivery of these courses to the rural communities.
More recently, Diane was a founding member of the Lethbridge Legacy of Nursing Scholarship Committee. The committee was established to raise funds and support local nursing research that will positively impact health care for years to come.
Diane also established a trauma committee and trauma program at Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH). Her experience in trauma services led her to co-author The Role of the Trauma Nurse.
Diane heavily influenced the delivery of emergency services. She coordinated the development of region-wide emergency department standards. Her work ensured staff had the necessary education and support, and patients received the best care possible, regardless of where they accessed services.
She also championed quality improvement work that dramatically improved patient flow and resulted in one of the shortest emergency waits in the province. She also led three emergency department redesign projects: Fort Macleod, Milk River and Chinook Regional Hospital; all resulting in improved workflow for front-line clinicians and patients.
Diane played a key role in standardizing stroke care best practices locally and provincially. As a member of the Alberta Health Services Emergency and Cardiovascular Heart and Stroke Strategic Clinical Networks, she implemented vascular risk reduction programing, stroke action plans, and strategies to reduce the length of emergency department stays.
In 2015, Diane saw the opportunity for a unique partnership with the construction company doing major construction work at her hospital. Many of the workers did not typically access preventative health services. Diane put together a team to provide vascular risk assessments on the workers. The assessments identified individuals at risk of developing hypertension and diabetes and the team provided interventions. The initiative was recognized by the Cardiovascular Heart & Stroke Strategic Clinical Network and was shared provincially.
Diane has recently retired with Lethbridge Regional Hospital, but
she continues to practise on a casual basis doing what she loved in
the first place, working in the emergency department.