Editor's Note: The following is a release from Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.
When was still under construction, Diane Leonard set out to find it.
A fellow nurse had encouraged Leonard to apply for the obstetrics clinical manager position advertised in a nursing trade publication but Leonard hadn’t heard about plans to build the hospital even though she and her family had relocated to two years earlier. She spotted the construction site along Remington Boulevard from her car window and saw it as her own version of the Promised Land.
“That’s my hospital,” Leonard recalled saying, not knowing at the time that was the hospital’s marketing tagline. “God built this hospital just for me!”
Leonard, who was then nurse manager of obstetrics at another suburban hospital, beat out many other qualified applicants for the Bolingbrook job.
Since joining the organization, her job responsibilities have grown as the hospital’s services have expanded. As director of women’s and children’s services, Leonard oversees a staff of 60; 80 percent of them have also been at the hospital since it opened in 2008. The hospital, which features a Level II nursery and maternal fetal medicine center, is on track to record a record number of births this year, with officials predicting that 1,000 babies will be delivered there in 2012.
For her achievements and commitment to Adventist Midwest Health’s mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ, Leonard was one of five Adventist Midwest Health leaders to receive the organization’s pillar award in February.
“Diane and her team built the women’s and children’s services department from the ground up,” said Jolene Albaugh, vice president/chief nursing officer, Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. “They work closely with obstetricians and pediatricians to ensure the best care for our patients and their families.”
Leonard, who has two sons age 15 and 22, likes to tell people that she took the “scenic route” throughout her career.
Although she longed to be a nurse while still in high school, an unsupportive guidance counselor warned her it would be a difficult journey. Eventually she discovered a financial assistance program for low-income students that allowed her to earn a licensed practical nurse degree. She later went on to earn her associate’s degree and registered nurse diploma, achievements that didn’t come easy. Her mother’s death in Leonard’s last semester of nursing school compelled her to take her nursing courses more seriously.
Tears fill her eyes when she talks about her mother, who worked nights as a housekeeper to raise seven children.
“A lady came up to me at my mom’s funeral and said, ‘You’re the nurse,’” Leonard recalled. “She said, ‘Your mom was so proud of you.’ That made me get my act back together and finish my degree because I knew that’s what she would have wanted.”
After earning her nursing diploma, Leonard was hired as a medical/surgical nurse in a suburban hospital. She spent 14 years there – the last four as charge nurse.
Hoping to save enough money to build her own home, Leonard got a second job as an agency nurse and was assigned to work in the labor and delivery unit of another hospital. At the time she wasn’t looking forward to working in obstetrics because her perception was that OB nurses weren’t as busy as med-surg nurses, who had more patients on the floor at any given time.
But watching the clinical team spring into action to treat a pregnant patient for cord prolapse – a life-threatening condition in which the unborn baby’s umbilical cord falls through the mother’s open cervix – convinced Leonard she was in the right place. Twenty years later, she can’t imagine working in another unit.
“Helping to bring new babies into this world – I can’t think of a better job,” Leonard said.
As Leonard’s career advanced progressively from charge nurse to assistant manager to manager, she sought additional training and education. In 2005, she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing; two years later, she earned her master’s degree in nursing – a milestone she never imagined reaching so many years ago as she sat, discouraged, in her high school guidance counselor’s office. That’s why she felt compelled in nursing school to mentor her fellow students, most of whom were younger than her and referred to her as their “school mom.”
“I encourage these young nurses to stay in school, study hard, get their BSN and then get their MSN,” Leonard said. “I want them to see their situations from my perspective. My long journey makes me appreciate everything all the more.”
Yet Leonard refuses to take all the credit for her accomplishments; a version of one of her favorite Bible verses, written on a memo board in her office, highlights her eternal perspective: “We can do all things through God who strengthens us (Phillipians 4:13).”
“I know all my blessings come from God – it has nothing to do with luck,” Leonard said. “God takes care of his children."