Teresa Colletti will be celebrating her 10th anniversary at South Florida Baptist Hospital this November, but it will be her first autumn as the hospital’s director of patient services.
“I have a tremendous passion for patient care and for nursing, because nurses really do so much for people to keep them healthy and safe,” Colletti said.
But, nursing was not always her aspiration. As she entered her college years, Colletti, then a semi-professional dancer and model, hoped to enter the world of performing arts.
“I was going to dance my way through life,” Colletti said. “Then my father sat me down and said, ‘No, you’re not. You’re going to go through school, and you’re going to be a nurse or a teacher.’”
Colletti, who had graduated high school with honors at 16, had loved studying science, so between those two options, she was drawn to health care.
“Within the first three months, I felt like it was meant for me,” Colletti said. “I actually did extremely well, and there was never a doubt in my mind that that’s where I was meant to be.”
After 39 years in her field, Colletti is accustomed to working in advanced settings such as emergency rooms and trauma centers. She has held leadership positions for 18 of those years.
In 2004, she came to South Florida Baptist Hospital to manage the ICU, PCU, department of cardiac rehabilitation and department of telemetry. She expected the job to be merely a transition for her.
“By the end of the first 12 to 14 months, I thought, ‘The people here won me over so much that I don’t care how much I have to do. I’m staying,’” Colletti said.
In 2010, her responsibilities shifted slightly, trading telemetry for the IR/cardiac cath lab. Then, in spring 2014, she began as the new patient services director, taking over for Karen Kerr, who was promoted to hospital president in February.
LIFE IN LEADERSHIP
Though she is now distinguished among hospital employees, Colletti does not want to be distanced from them.
“I’m not one of those closed-office kind of people,” Colletti said.
When she walks through the hospital corridors, she makes an effort to talk with staff to stay connected. That’s important for their growth, she said.
One of Colletti’s challenges as patient services director has been switching to a mentality that takes all of the hospital’s departments into consideration.
“I’ve always had the critical-care arena,” Colletti said. “When I make a decision now, I have to remember that it’s for everybody, not just one area, and I have to remember how they’re all interconnceted.”
But, because she has an extensive background in healthcare, all of those areas are familiar to her.
“What makes me happy is the team has expressed their excitement,” Colletti said. “They hug me and thank me, and tell me they’re so happy that I’m in this position, and that’s what keeps me going.”
Colletti is full of goals and ideas for the hospital, relating to patients’ practical needs and employees’ work environment.
“Patients seem to be sicker these days,” Colletti said. “We have a higher volume than we’ve had before.”
She hopes to add another 16 beds to the ICU within the next year, and eventually another operating room because of the high demand for robotics and surgeries.
As a nursing professional herself, Colletti understands the needs of the other nurses at the hospital and wants to help them meet those needs. She is a big advocate for education and motivates her team to pursue advanced degrees, she said. Currently, Colletti is working on a master’s degree in nursing at Florida Southern College, which she will finish in December 2015.
Though she is thriving in her new position, Colletti said she does greatly miss caring for patients directly.
“When I finish my degree, I’ll probably work on the side, on the weekends, taking care of patients somewhere,” Colletti said. “If the good Lord keeps me healthy, I’m probably just going to keep going. I don’t see myself ever stopping.”
Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].