Posted in: Professionals
Getting to Know: Lynn Echols, CEO of Black Bear Lodge
November 25, 2019
Lynn Echols, CEO of Black Bear Lodge, is a credentialed nurse.
That’s not something you hear very often. She is in a unique and valuable position, and her experience often informs her role as CEO.
“Nurses are typically very geared towards multitasking,” Echols notes, “So we’re used to thinking about and doing several things at one time, keeping a lot of things separate, and being able to compartmentalize, to go from one task to the next – all the while thinking about what needs to be happening later.”
“I think that ability and the experience of doing that, has lent to me the expertise of being able to, not only juggle multiple things at one time but also help my staff move into a more global way of thinking.”
What would motivate someone to make a transition from patient-care nursing to become the leader of a treatment facility that embraces a full continuum of care? For Echols, she had the opportunity to take on an administrative role in nursing where she oversaw various departments.
“I fell in love with that job,” she recalled, “I actually went back and got my hospital administration master’s as well so that I could have the opportunity to indirectly touch more lives – not just the patients that I serve, but also all the people that are serving those patients.”
It’s that very idea of global thinking that Echols has helped implement at Black Bear Lodge. Everything is geared toward working together as a staff to help each patient get the best quality care.
“It’s not just about what your job is,” she says, “It’s about what our job is. It’s about having the attitude that I basically have two jobs as a staff member: I have the job that I’m being paid for, and I also have the job of seeing how I can do my job better.”
The way the team at Black Bear Lodge stays on top of doing their jobs well is through communication and teamwork.
“All of our disciplines here work as a team,” Echols explains, “We hear that word ‘multidisciplinary’ thrown around a lot, but the actual actions of that? I see that every day.”
“You have the environmental services and facilities talking to the therapist about what they observed with a patient, or they have medical, nursing, and the RA teams all working together to try to stabilize someone medically.”
Echols knows firsthand what it’s like to be part of that multidisciplinary teamwork, “It matters when you see your leader doing those things that they’re asking you to do as a staff member. I’ve done basically every job at the frontline staff and ancillary personnel. It also gives me an understanding of what that job is, and it allows me to help staff maybe look at things differently, you know, having those fresh eyes to say, have you thought about doing this?”
She also reflects, “One of the things that I’ve seen here – both when I came here, and also continues to grow is the overall heart of service that our staff has. The staff themselves really set that standard of work ethic and the way that we meet our patients where they are. There is such a love for the work that is being done.”
Creating a Safe Space
You can tell that Echols is extremely proud of the team at Black Bear Lodge and for good reason. All of the teamwork, all of the communication, all of the heart that is poured into this place is to create a refuge for those who want to heal their addiction. Everything is for the patient.
“Sometimes they don’t really know how to talk about what they’re feeling and what’s going on with them internally,” she related, “So we give them the tools to help put those things into words so they can say it out loud to a person that’s nonjudgmental, and in a safe environment where they don’t have to worry about the repercussions of what they’re saying or how they’re feeling.”
Echols is also proud to be in the line of work that she’s in. She’s been doing it for a long time and has walked several miles in various pairs of shoes. The patient is at the core of everything she does in her work to support the staff.
“I always have to go back to that nursing heart that I have,” she says warmly, “The most awesome thing is to see those patients that come in that are broken, that have lost their lives to addiction, and to see them wake up and to know that they have hope and that they have a way to gain that life back. That is what brings me in here every day.”
Learn more about Black Bear Lodge.