Gerber Memorial Chief Operating Officer Bids Farewell
Jan Stone Calls It A Career
More than four decades ago, Jan Stone had a talk with one of her closest friends at Fruitport High School about their career plans that eventually paved the path for her future.
“She wanted to be a nurse, and she was so certain about it, so passionate, so committed about wanting to help people and make them healthy that it was infectious and I thought, ‘I want to be a nurse, too,’” Stone says. “We never looked back. Best decision of my life. I was called to be a nurse, and I’ve had a wonderful career.”
Her illustrious career in health care comes to a close...
...Thursday, Nov. 17, when Stone retires as chief operating officer at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and begins the next chapter of her life, which she says will likely include catching up with family members, friends and relatives in other states.
Reflecting on her tenure at Gerber Memorial, which she joined in 2002 as director of mental health, Stone says she has come to admire and love the people she works with and the strong community ties she finds throughout Newaygo County.
“People are constantly stepping up at Gerber Memorial and across this wonderful community, and I think that’s really special,” Stone says. “People want to give back to one another. People here will get things done, they have a tremendous amount of energy and they’re very real. The people are who have made my time here exceptional, inspiring and humbling.”
Stone applauds Gerber Memorial and its staff for building a culture of excellence that has helped make it a well-run operation for a small critical access 25-bed hospital. She says Gerber Memorial provides the right kind of services for the community and has won numerous recognitions during her tenure, including a 2015 Leapfrog Group award as a top U.S. rural hospital for its record of lower infection rates, higher survival rates for high-risk procedures, decreased length of stay and fewer readmissions.
The journey to her position as Gerber Memorial’s COO began in 1971. That year, Stone was awarded the Blodgett Memorial Hospital School of Nursing Award for Excellence and also worked as a staff registered nurse at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. In 1991, she joined the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. After joining Gerber Memorial, Stone was made executive director of integrated care in 2010, and vice president and chief operating officer in 2012. She has been involved in several research projects, is a prolific presenter and the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the prestigious Mayo Individual Award for Excellence from the Mayo Medical Center in 1997.
Stone cites her work to integrate essential functions throughout Gerber Memorial and increase accountability among all staff and departments as her most meaningful accomplishments.
“I’ve always been a systems thinker, seeing how things connect,” Stone says. “We have a sophisticated system at Gerber Memorial, and to take that system and make it work together is what I’m proudest of.”
For others at Gerber Memorial, Stone’s contributions go beyond systems analysis. Some praise her as an inspiring mentor who has helped shape their careers and achieve professional goals.
Information Services Manager Dave Mitchell says he knew from the minute he met Stone that she was an exceptional leader, with a passion and a vision that compelled him to move from Grand Rapids to Gerber Memorial in January 2016.
“Within the first two weeks of working with Jan, she reaffirmed all I had initially thought about her and I reached out to her and asked her if she would honor me by acting as a mentor to me and teaching me what she had learned over a long and illustrious career,” Mitchell says. “Jan’s ability to always see the big picture, her uncanny ability to remember and recall everyone she has interacted with, the way she navigates the Spectrum Health labyrinth in order to steer Gerber Memorial toward a better future, her ability to make everyone she interacts with smile, and her constant compassion for our patients are just a few of the qualities that I admire and respect about Jan. All of that being said about Jan on a professional level pales in comparison to Jan as a person. Jan is one of the most caring, compassionate, and selfless people I have ever met.”
Mitchell’s regret is that he still has more to learn from Stone, including the operations of a hospital, how to be an exceptional leader, and how to be a good person whom people admire and respect.
Stone herself echoes that sense that more work still remains, and starts rattling off a list: “New primary care physician space, new oncology space, more positive things we can do with electronic patient records.”
“My biggest regret is that I’m not quite done yet – we’re not done as a hospital – and stepping down now is hard because I love what I do,” Stone says. “I hope I’ve nurtured everyone I’ve met in some way. I recognize where people can stretch themselves, and I hope I’ve helped them get to the next level. We have a great new generation of leaders in place at Gerber Memorial, and that’s the consolation – that Gerber Memorial has a great team in place, and I can step aside now knowing that.”
Gerber Memorial President Randy Stasik says Stone’s passion for health care makes her an ideal champion for patients and a tireless advocate for Gerber Memorial.
“Jan’s love for health care and for our patients is an example for all of us,” Stasik says. “She pushes us to do better and to be more accountable, and she always starts with herself, which is a mark of leadership. She is a true friend, and I will miss her talents, her energy and her clear-eyed counsel.”
Stone compliments Stasik for supporting her in her many roles at Gerber Memorial.
“Randy is a great boss, the kind of boss who lets you be yourself,” Stone says. “Randy has a profound impact in shaping what I do. He’s always trusted us and encouraged us to do the right things, at all times.”
In the near future, Stone plans to immerse herself in music – she’s a multi-instrumental musician and is eager to try out a new cajon drum. She wants to do more photography. She’ll get to spend more time with friends and family. On the horizon are trips to relatives in Arizona, Ohio, Maine and Iowa, where her brother is renovating his 1850s house, the third oldest in Davenport.
“I have to go help him hang some drywall,” Stone quips.