Lake Regional Health System employees recently wished a fond farewell to Vicki Franklin, senior vice president and chief operating officer. A retirement reception was held Dec. 18 at Lake Regional to recognize Franklin, who was the hospital’s first employee.
“Vicki has been one of the most compassionate, loyal employees and an outstanding representative of Lake Regional to the community throughout her career,” said Michael E. Henze, chief executive officer of Lake Regional Health System, who has worked with Franklin almost 24 years. “Although we will miss Vicki greatly, we wish her a wonderful, fulfilling retirement.”
Franklin joined Lake Regional Health System in 1977, when it was known as Lake of the Ozarks General Hospital.
“I started six months before the hospital opened,” Franklin said. “The building was not complete enough for us to work in; we had an office on Highway 54/42. We worked to get everything going on time. I hired staff of all kinds, ordered everything from bedpans to medical equipment, helped form policies and procedures, and opened the door on the first day.”
Franklin served as director of nursing until 1986, when she was named director of Professional Services. In 1993, she was promoted to chief operating officer, then was named senior vice president/chief operating officer in 1999.
Throughout her years of service, Franklin has been instrumental in the growth and development of the health system, which began as a 78,000 square foot community hospital. Today, Lake Regional is a 500,000 square foot facility and integrated health system with eight primary care clinics and 18 specialty clinics. More than 100 providers currently serve on the medical staff of Lake Regional Health System, the area’s largest employer with nearly 1,100 employees.
“Vicki has dedicated her whole life to this hospital,” said Anesthesiologist Alan Mead, M.D., who has worked closely with Franklin for nearly 20 years. “She really cares about the patients and the community we serve.”
Franklin’s colleagues on the hospital’s administration team agree.
“Vicki embodies Lake Regional,” said Robert Hyatt, M.D., senior vice president of Medical Affairs at Lake Regional. “She has represented the health system well throughout her years of service. In addition, she has mentored many members of its management team, providing essential guidance and support. She will be sorely missed by me and the entire organization.”
Major additions to the health system during Franklin’s tenure as COO include the cardiac care and cancer treatment programs.
“We’ve grown and changed so much,” Franklin said. “There’s always something new happening. Growth is something Lake Regional is really good at, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
Page 2 of 2 - Franklin said one of the areas of greatest change during her career has been the technology used to treat patients.
“The changes in technology since I started here are so impressive, not just in how computers have advanced, but in areas like diagnostic imaging technology and the Cancer Center,” Franklin said. “Now, we can see extreme detail in images within minutes before determining a course of treatment.”
An Iowa native, Franklin attended college and nursing school in Ottumwa. She later earned a master’s of health service administration from Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine. Before joining Lake Regional, she worked in various nurse supervisory roles at Davis County Hospital in Bloomfield, Iowa; St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.; Spelman Memorial Hospital in Smithville, Mo.; and Charles E. Still Hospital in Jefferson City, Mo.
Franklin has been active in the lake-area community throughout her 36 years at Lake Regional, serving on the board of directors of the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks and the Northern Ozarks Mental Health Center. She also has served on advisory boards of the Lake Career and Technical Center, Clear Point Alcohol and Rehabilitation Center, and the Camden County Home Health Agency.
In addition, Franklin has been active in professional nursing organizations, including the Missouri Organization of Nurse Leaders, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the Missouri League for Nursing Inc., the National League for Nursing Inc. and the Missouri League of Nursing Home Administrators.
She and her husband, Ralph, have five children and 11 grandchildren. The Franklins, who live in Camdenton, enjoy lake life but plan to spend more time with family and traveling in their motor home.