With a bittersweet farewell, the Memorial Hospital Outpatient and Surgical Services Department wished Carol Ross good luck on her next journey into retirement, and welcomed the new OR Director, Melissa Taplin, with open arms.
On August 8, Melissa officially stepped into the role of OR Director for the Memorial Hospital Outpatient and Surgical Services Department. She had been filling in as the interim manager since July 1. Melissa has been a familiar face even before July, as she has worked for Memorial Hospital since the start of her nursing career in 2000 when she started as a Ward Clerk in the Inpatient/OB Unit. A Ward Clerk provides administration support and because it also requires a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license, this position can provide patient support as well. While Melissa was working as the Ward Clerk, she was also working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Wichita State University, and doing her clinicals here at Memorial Hospital alongside Registered Nurse Teresa Hudson, another long-time employee of Memorial Health System and co-worker of Melissa, who she finds herself fortunate to work with after all these years.
Melissa obtained her BSN in 2001, and after a few short years made a move to the Outpatient and Surgical Services Department in 2004, but still continued to work in the Inpatient/OB unit for a shift every week. In 2010 Melissa put on another hat for Memorial Health System by adding some Employee Health Nurse duties to her job description. This included making sure employees were up-to-date with their vaccinations and also checking new-hire screenings. Melissa has taken care of employees up to the beginning of this year. “When COVID hit, employee health duties increased immensely, so the last couple of years have been very busy, and then the affiliation changed some processes that added even more to the duties of Employee Health Nurse. There was a definite need to hire a person who could take on the extra workload required,” Melissa explained. “When Carol announced that she would be retiring, I felt that it was the right time to grow in my career and apply for the open director position. It all just fell into place at the right time.”
Melissa is a Kansas native; originally from Oberlin, but came to call Abilene her home after meeting her husband Brant Taplin, who grew up in Abilene, and moving here to start their life together. They have two sons. The oldest is headed off to his first year of college, and the other one will be a sophomore in high school. Melissa and her family are vested community members, and it is encouraging for Memorial Hospital to have one of their leaders be connected in such a way that it carries over into the support of its organization; in this case the Outpatient and Surgical Services Department.
Melissa shared that there are a lot of positive things happening in the department right now, “With the arrival of Dr. Young last year our surgery numbers are up. We are also adding Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Reilly, to our list of visiting specialists that come to Abilene and he plans to start doing minor surgeries which we are excited about. The infusion numbers have steadily increased over the years including patients who have to travel quite a distance. We are privileged to be able to provide services to these patients.”
The Outpatient and Surgical Services Department at Memorial Hospital is full of accomplished staff members. “With over 350 combined years of experience, I feel very fortunate and blessed to lead a group of such talented people,” said Melissa, “and the goal for our department right now is to continue to build on all the great things we are already doing.”