By Linda Moody
GREENVILLE - Kim (Fourman) Freeman, MS, RN, NEA-BC, solidified her yearning to get into health care when she was in high school.
In her freshman year at Arcanum, a classmate’s mother came into the school to speak on careers.
“She spoke about nursing and how exciting and rewarding it is,” said Freeman. “That definitely started my interest in health care.”
She began volunteering as a candy striper at Wayne Hospital her sophomore year and started working at the Brethren Home [now Brethren Retirement Community] as a nursing assistant as a junior, and today is the vice president of patient care services/chief nursing officer at Wayne HealthCare, where she has worked since 2001.
“I am responsible for all the clinical departments throughout the hospital except radiology.” Freeman said. “I am the vice president of multiple departments with administrative job duties that include planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and evaluating. I have several directors under me that manage the day-to-day operations of the individual departments.”
In her work, Freeman does administrative rounds and ensures quality and safety of patient care.
In 2011, she took the vice president of Patient Care Services position from Kay Kirby, who retired.
“Kay was a great mentor,” Freeman said. “She was phenomenal. Upon her retirement, she told me, ‘I’m getting ready to retire, are you ready?’”
Freeman, a 1996 graduate of Arcanum High School, as noted before, was a nursing assistant at the Brethren Home full-time before she started taking classes for nursing.
She earned her licensed practical nursing degree in 1998 from Miami Valley Career Technology Center, then started back at the Brethren Home and Alterra Sterling House, while returning to school for registered nursing.
Her studies for her registered nurse’s degree were at Edison Community College, and she graduated with an associate’s degree in 2001.
That’s when she began working at the local hospital on staff as a registered nurse.
Freeman was awarded her bachelor’s of science in nursing in 2003 at Indiana Wesleyan University after taking classes one day a week.
“At that point, I left as staff nurse and accepted the position as a unit manager of pre-op and post-op surgical and med surgical unit and managed those until 2008. ” she said.
In 2008, she moved on to become the director of nursing at the hospital.
Freeman began pursuing her master of science in nursing leadership degree in 2004, while pregnant with her oldest child, Kylee, who was born at the end of the year.
“This year, I earned my board-certification in nurse executive advance through the American Nursing Credentialing Center. That was a nearly three-hour test.”
Freeman, who married husband Brad in 2001, added, “It was important I got through school”
They now have two more children, Brayden, born on Valentine’s Day in 2008, and Kennedy, in 2009.
“Our family’s perfect…three kids, all healthy. We’re blessed to have at least one of each.”
What’s it like juggling a career and family?
“Half of it is determination, setting goals and knowing where you want to go,” she replied, “and the other half is the help I get from family and the hospital staff. Personally helping me are my husband, sister Krista, occasionally my aunt and Grandma Theora [Rismiller] but my biggest help is Mom and Dad [Sharon and Randy Fourman]. Here [at the hospital], it’s having this great staff below me. It makes my job easier having good people report to me.”
It is equally as challenging to keep her family in perspective.
“I do try to balance between work and family,” she said. “I am secretary of Arcanum PTO. Kylee and Brayden are in sports, and Kylee and Kennedy are involved in dance. You do what you have to do. I don’t want to cut the kids off from their activities. It keeps them active.”
As a representative of the hospital, she is a board member of the Darke County chapter of the American Red Cross and several nursing advisory boards at Edison State, Upper Valley Joint Vocational School and Indiana University East a well as several committees at the hospital.
“Wayne [Deschambeau, Wayne HealthCare’s CEO] wants us to get involved in the community,” she said. “It’s good to keep a pulse on what’s going on in education.”
She attributes her leadership skills to her upbringing by her parents and grandparents, and her involvement in 4-H and other activities.
Freeman, who participated in some sports in junior and senior high, quit doing them as she got busier working with health care.
“I worked second shift after school for 24 to 32 hours a week,” she said. “I paid for my college education. It didn’t seem like a job because I loved it.”
She was a 10-year member of 4-H, having been in such clubs as Butler Boosters and eventually Fun Bunch. She showed poultry, dairy and some sheep and won several awards for her woodworking projects.
“4-H definitely taught me responsibility and determination to get projects done,” she said.
Freeman said she enjoys what she is doing now even though “There are more challenging times in health care with all the changes.”
Linda Moody can be reached at 937-548-3151 ext. 1750 or by calling direct at 569-4315. Be her friend on Facebook by searching her name. For more features online, go to advocate360.org or “like” The Daily Advocate on Facebook by searching Advocate360.