Meet Christie Gray

By Lori Nichols, RN, MSN, CCRN, ACNS-BC, CTTS, clinical nurse specialist, program manager, Senior Emergency Center, Atrium Medical Center

Christie GrayI go looking for Christie Gray. I find her in the crow’s nest, shielding her eyes from the driving rain of change. Holding onto the side to steady herself against the fierce winds of closure, disbelief and sadness. She shouts over the gale to me, “Do you see it, on the horizon? The sun!”

Below, on deck, all heads of the crew turn toward the west. They are tired and drenched, some only briefly raise their heads to look. Others smile and point at the narrow yellow rays. Christie gazes down at the weary travelers and raises inspiration with these words, “We have crossed the sea of transition! We are resilient!”

Meet Christie Gray, RN, MSN, APRN, CNS, chief nursing officer, vice president of operations. Miami Valley Hospital’s nurse leader.

Christie comes from a distinguished line of health care workers. Her grandmother and grandfather were both nurses, until her grandfather transitioned to physical therapy and worked with veterans. Her grandmother cared for residents at the county home, and would bring residents home for dinner, and to spend Christmas with her family. Christie’s mother was also a nurse – the first LPN hired on the cardiac unit in the Madonna Pavilion (the first building) at Good Samaritan Hospital. Christie shared fond memories: “…we children would sit in the car with daddy and wait for mom to get off work outside of Good Samaritan…in the evening I would help my mom polish her white leather shoes…but I didn’t have the notion to become a nurse myself; something in health care, for sure, but not a nurse!” To Christie, health care represented stability and would fulfill her desire to help people. So, after high school, Christie stepped into the water!

Christie began as a health unit coordinator on 5300 at Good Samaritan Hospital, a surgical unit. “I worked with fabulous women; we were family, and they supported me in the way a mom would, the way we all worked together,” she said. “I worked all over the hospital, including ICU with my mom! And, even as I floated between units, I was thinking, ‘maybe nursing.’”

And then Christie had that moment. The moment that many nurses have, that will define the rest of their lives. The moment when it becomes clear why you walk the earth. The moment when one knows they have found the answer. One of the fabulous mom-figures said, “We’ve cracked a chest, come and look!” Christie was fascinated by the beating heart exposed, the expertise shown by the staff caring for the patient, the knowledge, the confidence and urgency displayed by the team that day. There would be many more days like that one in the life of Christie Gray!

Christie graduated from Kettering School of Nursing with her associate degree; from Andrews with her bachelor’s degree; and from Wright State University with her master’s degree in advanced practice nursing, clinical nurse specialist. I asked Christie, why CNS? “I like the nurse-driven model,” she said. “A CNS combines the clinical with the education. I enjoy developing relationships and networking to establish resources. And CNSs were being used in the organization!”

I ventured to ask her opinion regarding the issue of practice for nurse practitioners. “It’s not about geography,” she said. “It’s about education, both formal and informal, and certification. We are short-sighted if we fight each other.”

In 2016, Christie moved back to Good Samaritan Hospital and became the chief nursing officer there. Everything happens the way it is supposed to…

Christie shared that a lot of planning went into making the announcement of Good Samaritan’s closing. “There was concern for how people would receive the message from every level across the organization,” she said. What happened next will be the topic of conversation for years to come. Those of us who watched will confirm these truths.

Unit managers were provided assistance in delivering the news to their units. But managers wanted “to deliver the message to their families alone.” And staff “didn’t miss a beat!” said Christie. “Even though they were sad and tearful, they kept coming back in! We were prepared for call offs, but we didn’t see that. That’s the caliber of the Good Samaritan staff.”

“I am in awe, and honored to work with these fine people,” Christie continued. “We are human, we can only take in so much, but this experience has brought a closeness on so many levels. It is so wonderful to round and hear how people are doing in their new environments, and forming new relationships! It’s also important to check on those you’re not so sure about.” The emotion is still raw, as our eyes welled up with tears.

So, what goals does Christie have for this vessel called Miami Valley Hospital? “Stabilize the staff, making sure we have the resources we need. At the same time, delivering the top level of quality the community is used to!” she said. And, what strengths does Christie bring to this adventure? “I am open, I listen, and I continue to work to improve,” she said. “I am myself. I communicate, I don’t have all the answers, but am surrounded by a great team. They will hold me accountable!”

Christie has been married to her husband, Jason, for 12 years. And asking about Christie’s child, Avari, makes her big brown eyes light up and sparkle with delight. “She brings me joy and gives me heart!” Christie said.

Christie is transparent and giving of herself. She is a respected nurse leader in the organization. As staff at all levels integrate into their new roles, they look to Christie Gray for clarity, kindness, strength, and resilience. They are not disappointed.

Christie Gray makes Premier Health better.

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