NCH Welcomes New Vice President of Quality, Risk and Patient Experience
Early last month, Nantucket Cottage Hospital welcomed Dr. Sandra Van Gundy, EdD as our new Vice President of Quality, Risk and Patient Experience.
Hailing from Holderness, New Hampshire, Dr. Van Gundy is no stranger to the challenges faced by island residents, having spent over 30 years as a frequent seasonal visitor of Nantucket.
“I first came to Nantucket in 1988, staying in Tom Nevers, since then I would visit regularly through the 90s, which is when Nantucket really became my happy place, I particularly enjoy its natural beauty and the welcoming warmth of the community,” said Van Gundy.
A seasoned Registered Nurse, Van Gundy spent 12 years rotating throughout clinical roles before making the jump to academia where she was an Associate Professor of Nursing with a focus on quality, patient safety, and health at Plymouth State University.
“As an advocate for population health, my work centered on health needs of populations across the world, from Latin America to China, treating both chronic and acute illness and monitoring determinants of health,” said Van Gundy.
Despite years in healthcare as a practicing clinician and educator, Van Gundy’s most enlightening experience wasn’t as a nurse or professor, but rather as a patient, at the receiving end of the care she spent a lifetime practicing.
“As a cancer survivor, I realize being a patient was a gift as a practitioner, because I realized that despite efforts to empathize with the patient, really have no idea what our patients are going through,” said Van Gundy. “There was a tremendous empathy gap, caregivers were often challenged to successfully put themselves in their patient shoes and were developing plans of care that were not able to meet patient’s individualized needs.
Following recovery, Van Gundy came to the conclusion that her experience was an opportunity to influence healthcare system design so it balances evidence-based decision making with unique needs of patients in order to provide those we serve with a better patient experience.
“There are so many factors that impact a patient’s treatment, everyone has dozens of psycho-social factors that need to be taken into account when building a care plan,” said Van Gundy. “Caregivers need to know what a patient is going through…family or financial challenges, all these pieces need to be taken into account to maximize that personalized care and ultimately patient success.”
As the hospital’s leader for quality and patient experience, Van Gundy believes that her experience as both a patient and practitioner has uniquely equipped her to optimize patients’ experiences at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, while leading the organization through a pivotal period for healthcare providers across the nation.
“Healthcare leaders have known for a decade that America doesn’t have enough doctors to increase access to care nationwide,” said Van Gundy. “We can overcome that challenge here on Nantucket by ensuring our nurse practitioners are practicing to the fullest extent of their education, training and license, and help our community understand just how remarkable a resource they are for care.”
For Van Gundy, Nantucket offers an opportunity for her to get closer to patients, while addressing many of the pressing healthcare issues impacting the island community.
“Since I first came to Nantucket in 1988, it’s grown into such a diverse and unique community,” said Van Gundy. “With that comes a wide spectrum of challenges and expectations from our patients, but when you look around this new, state-of-the-art hospital, you realize we’re well situated to meet those challenges.”