Stitch in Time

Coordinating surgery efforts with Holly Ray

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HOLLY RAY is a long-standing physician with Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center. In October, Ray accepted the position of clinical physician executive for Novant Health Surgical Institute.

Ray became interested in health care in high school, first considering a future as a physician assistant, then optometry, and ultimately decided to apply to medical school.

“I had great role models, a compassionate primary care physician, and a wonderful nurse practitioner at our local county health department,” she recalls. “I saw the joy they experienced in serving others through their careers.”

For the past several years, Ray was the medical director for NHRMC Surgery Navigation Center, now called Novant Health Surgery Navigation, collaborating with surgery, anesthesia, and hospital leaders to build a sophisticated preoperative medicine program. In her new role, Ray is leading the development of a Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) for Novant Health.

“PSH is a patient-centered perioperative care model, spanning from the decision a patient and surgeon make to pursue surgery until the patient has fully recovered,” explains Ray. PSH is intended to use evidence-based tools to help determine the right level of preoperative evaluation for patients, taking into consideration both procedural risk and the patient’s medical complexity.

A native of Maury, North Carolina, Ray attended North Carolina State University, graduating in 2006 and then attending medical school at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine, where she graduated in 2010. Ray completed her residency at NHRMC in 2013 and became a physician, treating acutely ill hospitalized patients. Ray has gravitated toward perioperative medicine because it is collaborative and interdisciplinary.

“Surgery, anesthesia, and medicine work together with hospital administration and ancillary services to deliver remarkable perioperative care,” she says. “This collegial spirit and shared vision energizes those involved in the surgical care of patients. It’s contagious! Patients are better prepared for surgery. Providers and the hospital alike are highly satisfied with its impact on surgical outcomes.”

In addition to clinical and administrative partners throughout Novant Health, as well as private practice surgeons and anesthesia groups, Ray’s partners are STEPHEN BUTLER and ANDREA SMITH-JONES. Butler is an experienced surgeon and the senior physician leader over the Novant Health Surgical Institute. Smith-Jones, a former nurse, is Ray’s administrative dyad partner, with a background in operations for preoperative services and ambulatory surgery.

“I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive team that spans the state. Each offers a unique perspective and contribution to scaling PSH across Novant Health,” Ray says.

Ray has been getting to know others across the Novant footprint.

“We all have so much to learn and gain from each other working together toward a common goal,” she says.

Ray anticipates moving all preoperative clinics across Novant Health toward a surgery navigation model. “Through this alignment, we hope to scale our successes across the large health system,” she says. “This will ultimately improve patient care beyond our hospital walls, across Novant Health and the state.”

Ray and her husband, Cliff, who sells search and rescue accessories as the owner of P2P Rescue, are raising two young children. What’s Ray’s secret to making it all work? She tries to start each day before her family wakes with a devotion and exercise.

“It doesn’t always happen, but I’ve learned that carving out time for self-care better prepares me mentally for the day ahead – a combination of patient care, conversations with physicians about upcoming surgical cases, and meetings related to our perioperative program,” she says.

Ray and her husband often flex their time and commitments to meet each other’s needs, but rarely is it a 50/50 split. “It takes faith, it takes passion, and it takes a village,” she says. “We strive to bring out the best in each other. That seems to keep our family happy and our household functioning. We are fortunate to have great support from family, friends who are like family, wonderful neighbors, and our church.”

After dinner and time together as a family before the children go to bed, Ray tackles the laundry, the family’s schedule of activities, or hops on perioperative medical society conference calls with colleagues from around the country.

Ray says the greatest gift from her medical career has been the gift of time: “time with patients, time to perform a thorough preoperative evaluation, time to find ways to better optimize a patient’s health before surgery, time to listen to patients’ concerns about surgery or health in general,” she says. “Time and how we spend it is one of God’s greatest gifts.”

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Categories: Health