Newswise — Derek L. Curtis, new chief nursing officer of Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, wants to enhance the opportunities for nurses and increase their role in patient-centric care where patients and families have a greater say in the hospitalization of loved ones.

Additionally, the 21-year nursing professional, wants to encourage nurses to pursue more expert certifications, as well as master’s and doctorate degrees. Already, LBJ Hospital has a large number of degreed nurses, a requirement for any hospital seeking nurse Magnet Recognition Program® status, one of the highest nursing recognitions for hospitals in the U.S.

“Many of the criteria necessary for magnet is already in place,” he says. “We just need to compile it and write our story to meet the stringent requirements.”

Curtis and the administrative team will explore the feasibility of magnet designation and decide on next options. If the team agrees, it could be a 2-3 year process to achieve. Another area of focus for him is to create more collaborations and partnerships between nurses and physicians in efforts to improve providing compassionate and respectful patient care.

“Using evidence-based practice with both quality improvement and patient safety focus is the way we’ll operate,” he says. “By involving multidisciplinary staff like case management, nurses, ancillary support and physicians, we can develop the best plan of care for our patients while in the hospital and help transition them to our outpatient care at Harris Health’s Ambulatory Care Services. Our ultimate goal is to provide patients the best possible care, while reducing length of hospital stay and possible readmissions.”

Curtis most recently worked as a nurse executive for Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center, where he oversaw 455 staff and 166 inpatient beds.

“Derek brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record as an exceptional leader and clinician,” says Jessie L. Tucker III, executive vice president and administrator, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. “LBJ's nursing team is extremely dedicated and our only missing component was senior executive leadership. We have unprecedented goals for the future and Derek will be an essential part in helping our hospital and system through our nursing transformation."

Curtis’ career in nursing began in the military. However, his desire to serve others and give back to the community began at age eight when he and his mother volunteered in a nearby hospital. He did this and other church-related volunteer work through high school. While in the U.S. Army, he discovered the nursing career track suited his needs to help others. He honed his nursing credentials working 12 years in various capacities including stints in Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Korea and Kuwait.

Curtis boasts a varied healthcare perspective from his experience working in federal, for-profit and private hospitals and institutions. He feels his insight will help him at LBJ Hospital address issues with a look at efficiency and streamlining processes to meet a patient’s continuum of care needs.

He has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Medical College of Georgia, a master’s degree in information management from Webster University in San Antonio and is about to complete his doctorate degree in nursing practice executive leadership from American Sentinel University in Colorado.

Curtis is engaged and has five children—four adults and a six-year-old—and lives in Richmond, Texas.