For the last six weeks, Gail Gumminger has been on rounds at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She is not a veterinarian, but rather the newly appointed hospital administrator who is intent on learning every aspect of hospital operations and, more importantly, meeting and getting to know faculty members, support personnel, and administrative staff.
After more than 20 years in the human healthcare industry, Gumminger is discovering a new way of caring in a veterinary hospital where the patients mostly have four legs, and owners are an important part of patient care.
“I started in mid-April and am on a steep learning curve, but I already have a deep appreciation for the dedication, passion and commitment each person here brings to their work,” said Gumminger. “I look forward to a partnership in learning where I can bring in fresh ideas that have worked in human healthcare and learn from the professionals here as to the best ways to move the hospital forward. I want Colorado State University to be the place people come to when they want to learn the best practices in veterinary hospital operations.”
As an undergraduate at Benedictine College, Gumminger studied to be a registered dietitian through a cooperative program with Kansas State University. She completed a one-year internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (including a few months on a farm for her community rotation). She initially worked in hospital acute care and eventually moved into health promotion and prevention, then took on leadership and management positions where she brought together her technical training with her strategic planning skills.
She attended the University of Missouri where she received her master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on healthcare administration. Gumminger came to Colorado in 1997 and worked at Storage Technology in Longmont before returning to the world of healthcare. She worked in the Banner Health System in health and wellness, and then moved into human resource management. When a friend told her of the hospital administrator position at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, she knew it was right up her alley.
Since her arrival, she has been working to get to know the people at the VTH, and understand hospital processes, challenges, and accomplishments. Several times a day, she goes into the hospital connecting with veterinarians, nurses, support staff and others, working to understand the flow of the hospital including where things are backed up and where there is capacity. She is always looking for opportunities for improvement while incorporating open communication and partnerships.
“The coming months present a huge opportunity to do things differently,” said Gumminger. “But I can’t do it by myself. It has to be a team effort bringing everyone’s ideas and energy to the table. We want to improve the hospital front entrance; help to create a culture of environmental safety for ourselves, our customers and our community; enhance day-to-day operations; and bring in an element of strategic thinking.”
To Gumminger, excellence in service to all VTH “customers,” including faculty members, clients, referring veterinarians, students, and support staff is of paramount importance.
“Our attention and focus is on customers and service,” said Gumminger. “How we want to be treated is how we should treat others. I clipped out a quote that reads, ‘Excellence is doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways.’ Whether it’s answering a phone or doing heart surgery, we each have the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of others.”