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Healthcare Veteran, Tina Griffin Reflects on 38 Years of Impactful Service

April 24, 2024

[GARDNER, MA – April 8, 2024] – After nearly four decades of dedicated service to Heywood Healthcare, Gardner native, Tina Griffin, recounts a lifetime of experiences, accomplishments, and pride in caring for her community.

Tina’s path to healthcare wasn't conventional, as she started her educational pursuits after she was married and her first child was born. Despite facing early challenges, Tina's passion for making a difference in people's lives led her to pursue nursing. Tina's journey in healthcare began in May of 1986 when she embarked on her career as a medical/surgical nurse on Favor 2, at Heywood Hospital.

"I didn't start this journey for the money," Tina reflects. "It was always about the versatility of the field of nursing and the desire to have a positive impact on people’s lives."

Throughout her career, Tina's dedication to learning and growth never waned. She gained
various experiences while working in the Emergency department, ICU, pediatrics, OBS, Hospice and Oncology. She worked for the Gardner VNA, Southshore Hospital in Weymouth and UMASS-Healthalliance. Tina also taught didactics and clinicals to second year nursing students at Mount Wachusett Community College and Greenfield Community College. She juggled her roles as a nurse, educator, and administrator while pursuing advanced degrees and certifications. From obtaining her Bachelor and Master’s of Science degrees in Nursing to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, and in 2011 obtaining her Doctorate from the University of Miami Tina’s career continued to advance, culminating as the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services for Athol Hospital, while maintaining her role as a Pain and Palliative Care Consultant.

Tina's tenure in healthcare has been marked by numerous milestones and achievements. In 1999 she started the first pain consultative program at Heywood Hospital, pioneering
advancements in pain management, driven by her observations of end of life and hospice
patients enduring unnecessary pain and suffering.Tina's commitment to patient comfort and dignity in their final moments stands as a testament to her compassionate approach to care.

Additionally, Tina introduced and held hybrid positions as Director of ED/NP and Director of Oncology/NP, and started the first urgent care center embedded in the Emergency Department in 2002. Tina's pioneering spirit continued as she spearheaded the establishment of the first palliative care service line at Heywood in 2008 and later at Athol in 2015, both of which are thriving and growing still today.

In her pursuit of ensuring access to healthcare for her community, Tina undertook graduate courses in rheumatology and became certified to cover rheumatology patients when the sole rheumatologist fell ill unexpectedly.

In 2012, Tina joined Athol Hospital as an oncology Nurse Practitioner and director, stepping into the role to run the oncology department with Dr. Saleem Khanani. Her leadership qualities were further recognized when she was asked to take on the role of Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) in 2014, while continuing to work as an oncology NP. Tina's influence at Athol Hospital continued to grow, and in 2017, she assumed the role of COO/CNO, overseeing various departments on
the Heywood and Athol campuses as well as the Quabbin Retreat. She also spearheaded
significant construction projects.

Under Tina's leadership, Athol Hospital achieved remarkable success, earning a 5-star rating by CMS, three favorable Joint Commission surveys, and the nomination of a prestigious quality award. Tina's commitment to innovation and excellence is further evidenced by her involvement in the first COVID Vaccine Clinic in 2021, which provided over 30,000 vaccines to employees and the community.

Throughout her career, Tina's dedication to patients and her profession has been unwavering, and extended beyond clinical settings as she mentored future generations of healthcare providers and advocated for fair wages and better working conditions for her staff.

Reflecting on her legacy, Tina attributes her success to the unwavering support of her family, particularly her husband, Patrick, and her children, Ryan and Jaime. Their encouragement and understanding enabled Tina to pursue her dreams while balancing the demands of parenting, work and education.

Tina also shared that she learned from the very best, noting three physicians who mentored and precepted her during her Nurse Practitioner internships and left a lasting impression. Dr. Mike Gaudet emphasized the importance of approaching patient care without biases, recognizing that everyone, regardless of background or perceived mental state, deserves equal attention and care. He stressed the significance of paying attention to minute details in patient presentation and history and treating patients with kindness and respect. Dr. Kathleen Sweeney demonstrated dedication and compassion by going above and beyond for her patients, even staying late into the night to ensure thorough charting and spending whatever time necessary with patients to address their needs. And, Dr. David Havlin who was characterized by his kindness and intelligence, as well as his commitment to thoroughness, showing a willingness to exhaust all avenues to arrive at the correct diagnosis for his patients.

As Tina transitions into the next chapter of her life, her legacy of compassionate care, dedication to learning, and advocacy for patients and staff will continue to inspire generations of healthcare professionals and will leave a permanent mark on the Heywood Healthcare system. When asked if Tina had any words of wisdom to impart on the next generation of nurses and nurse practitioners she stated, “Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself or to step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences. Stay curious, be kind, and never stop learning. Remember to take care of yourself so you can best care for others. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and always advocate for your patients.” Tina is looking forward to spending more time with her family, especially her 4 grandchildren.