Patty Vaughn, a Clarksville native recently retired from federal service after 32 years of serving Soldiers, retirees and Family members at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
Vaughn, began work at BACH as a perioperative nurse, more commonly known as an operating room nurse, in 1990 in BACH’s Department of Surgery.
“When I first started, most of the surgeons were my age, maybe a year or two older. As they have rotated in and out, they are still the same age but I’m not,” Vaughn said with a chuckle, having mentored countless surgeons, nurses and staff over the past three decades. “Now I’m old enough to be most of their mothers and sometimes a little more as some of them like to remind me when we’re working late nights in the OR.”
During her time at BACH, Vaughn proved to be a true asset to the operating room.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to have served here for 30 years, taking care of the best, most deserving patients in the world – our Soldiers and their Families, both active duty and retired,” she said.
As a perioperative nurse, Vaughn worked with patients prior to surgery, answering their questions and calming their fears. In the operating room, she monitored the patient’s condition during surgery and oversaw nursing care for his or her safety and comfort.
In addition to always looking out for the patient, Vaughn always looked out for her team as well, said Lt. Col. Danielle Holt, Department of Surgery chief.
“She is the nurse who has worked with me on the majority of cases since I’ve been here and she has always gone one step further to make sure that we had anticipated the needs of not only the patient, but the staff and the surgeon, to make sure our procedures go not only smoothly, but safely,” Holt said. “Patty is the nurse to always rise to the challenges that need to be done, leading the team, and we will really miss her.”
Looking through a current electronic data base that tracks procedures since 2003 and calculating from previous systems, BACH’s Deputy to the Commander for Quality and Safety Jim Nix estimates Vaughn assisted in more than 16,000 surgical procedures during her career that spanned Desert Storm and Desert Shield, as well as operations in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That is a lot of lives touched,” Nix said.
Nix first met Vaughn while on active duty as BACH’s perioperative services chief in 2005.
“At that time, Soldiers were returning from downrange with injuries and wounds and receiving priority care was so very important, just as it is today,” he said. “It was so important for them to get healed, recovered and rejoin the fight. She executed that mission flawlessly, day in and day out.”
In addition to patient care, Vaughn helped establish a single-use instrument reprocessing program that resulted in a total savings of more than $1 million over the past four years. In 2000, she worked to stand up the hospital’s bariatric program and has served as interim head nurse for the operating room on two separate occasions.
“Nursing is truly a calling,” Vaughn said. “It’s a passion that you really need to embrace. Taking care of others, I won’t lie, it takes a lot from you physically, emotionally, mentally. It takes everything you have, but it gives you so much more in return. Those returns are what sustains you on the hard days and rejoices with you on the good days.”
More than 1,500 civilians work in the federal service at BACH alongside their active duty counterparts. To learn more about job opportunities at BACH visit www.usajobs.gov.