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7 Questions with Burke Kline

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Burke Kline

Name: Burke Kline, DHA, CHFP, FACHE

Current title: Chief Executive Officer

Current organisation: Jefferson Community Health and Life

Dr. Kline was born and raised in Nebraska, Kline earned his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Bellevue University and his Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from Walden University.

Kline has over 21 years of experience in the healthcare industry, at Pawnee County Memorial Hospital and Rural Health Clinic (PCMH), located in Pawnee City, NE, in a number of managerial roles and as Associate Administrator.
In addition to his administrative roles, Kline also has front-line healthcare experience working as a certified nurse aide in the Long Term Care setting early in his career. In addition to his healthcare experience, Kline served as a Deputy Sheriff, K-9 Handler, SWAT team leader and Commander of the Major Crimes Unit for the Gage County Sheriff’s Office.
In his time as Associate Administrator at PCMH, Kline prides himself on his driving operational efficiency and continuous quality of care for patients. Among his achievements, he was able to increase market share and bring much needed service lines to PCMH to meet the needs of that community. After PCMH, Kline became the the CEO at Greeley County Health Services (GCHS) in Tribune, KS. After 4 years at GCHS, Dr. Kline and family made the move back to Nebraska and was recruited by Jefferson Community Health and Life, in Fairbury, NE. a Critical Access Hospital with an attached Skilled Nursing Facility and an Assisted Living Facility, where he currently resides as CEO.
“Through my career, I have been very committed to providing quality and accessible healthcare while continuously improving patient satisfaction,” Kline said.

7 Questions with Burke Kline

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

One of the most challenging aspects in my position at Jefferson Community Health and Life (JCH&L) is, balancing leadership and management equally in a way that is beneficial and impactful to each individual member of my staff. Professional and personal growth and development is an important aspect to the culture at JCH&L. By showing staff that they are the reason why this organization works and that we want them to continually improve and grow as people and staff members help unite our mission, vision and values as an organization and further connects us to our community.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I started out in high school as a Certified nurses assistant and work in many different facilities from Skilled Nursing homes to Alzheimer's and Dementia units to Assisted Living facilities. I worked as a CNA/CMA until I was 23 when I became a Deputy Sheriff, I was in law enforcement for about 8.5 years, after 8.5 year I honestly became burned out, so I decided to return to school and try something new, after finishing my undergraduate degree I decided to try healthcare administration, I obtained my graduate degree and began working under Jim Kubik the CEO at Pawnee County Memorial Hospital. I started out as an administrative resident and worked my way up to Associate Administrator, I worked as the Associate Administrator for about 4 years. Jim then retired and the Board of directors brought in a management company to take over operations. I then decided to move on and venture out on my own. I ended up getting a hospital CEO position through Quorum Health Resources, and was stationed in Tribune, KS. I held the position for 4 great years until the contract between the hospital and QHR ended in 2020. At that time my family and I decided to move back to Nebraska, I was then approached by Bryan Health in Lincoln, NE. to apply for the CEO position at Jefferson Community Health and Life in Fairbury, NE. , so I did and have been the CEO here for almost 1 year now and have enjoyed the community and organization immensely .

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I typically wake up around 5am, I read the news and check the stock market, I then shower and get ready for work. I get to work between 6 -7 am, I then check emails while having breakfast and begin to start my work day by first off, rounding to different departments ,speaking with staff, since each department works and runs differently it's hard to schedule a stand-up meeting. Then my meetings start, I'm typically in some type of meeting(s) throughout the day, with a few breaks in between to get my work finished. After work I get home anywhere between 4-5pm and from 8-bed time, I'm answering emails and finishing up daily items I didn't get finished at work during the day.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

The difference between feedback and coaching, feedback is if a person isn't performing up to expectations, and giving them feedback is to help them improve, while coaching is when the staff member is performing to expectation and you are coaching them along their professional path, helping guide them to where they want to be.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that really gave me the "Ah-ha moment" was a book by Cy Wakeman titled "No Ego". My organization had been a follower of Wakeman for a number of years, teaching our managers about reality based management. I was brought on and wasn't as familiar to the concept and wanted to read the her books and become more familiar with the concepts to help me understand the culture better. After reading "No Ego" it began to fall into place, reality based management fit better than the tradition teaching we are all taught as leaders and managers, I found that I had been leading wrong for years. Reality based management really helps staff take accountability and greatly reduced drama and miscommunication, staff are happier and performance increases.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Listening, watching and learning what is going on in the organization, industry, staff and community. Being empathetic and having a self awareness is critical. Knowing that you might not always know the answer and being okay to admit that, can save you a lot of stress. That why you build great teams, teams that work together and help you reach that answer. Being a authentic leader and leading by example are key.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

I had just started in my CEO role in Kansas, I had been there probably a month, when we experienced a unexpected blizzard which dumped close to 3 feet of snow and knocked out the power to the town. Our emergency generator kicked on and we regain limited power, now when I say limited, I mean limited,.. the generator was able to supply only about 15% of the hospital and our Long Term Care unit. and it turned out that the generator was not connected to the facility heat, therefore there was not any heat throughout the hospital or LTC. On top of that the power ran a few lights and a few red (emergency outlets) throughout the hospital and LTC. Our refrigerators were also not on the emergency power and food began to thaw, we took the food out of the refrigerator and put it in out outside courtyard in the snow to keep cold. We were about to use our blanket heater that were plugged into red outlets to keep people warm at least the best we could. Then I received a call that the city water tower was dangerously low with water, due to the power outage the pumps weren't able to pump water into the water tower, so we began gathering bottled water and passing them out to our residents and patients. We then received a call of a woman going into labor, due to the snow the roads were snowed over, a tractor with a snow blade had to drive in front of the ambulance to get the patient and get her to the hospital. After being assessed it was decided that the patient was to be transported to a neighboring hospital that had heat and power, due to the road conditions, we cleared a street intersection for the helicopter to land and transport the patient. The power outage lasted 3 days and a lot of lessons were learned.