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COLUMBUS — Dorothy Bybee will bring nearly 30 years of experience in the health care field to Columbus Community Hospital when she takes over as vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.

The California native spent the last 4 1/2 years as the assistant chief nursing officer at Via Christi Health System Education Department in Wichita, Kansas. Via Christi Health operates seven hospitals and offers 500 beds for acute, behavioral and rehabilitation care.

Bybee has provided senior leadership in several areas there, including nursing education, palliative care, diabetes education, simulation labs and residency coordinator. She has also been the assistant chief nursing officer at the 40-bed Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital and 48-bed Via Christi Hospital St. Theresa.

Bybee will start her position in Columbus on April 17. She is taking over for Linda Walline, who has been vice president of patient care for 14 years. Walline plans to retire in May.

At CCH, Bybee will oversee about 250 employees, including 180 registered nurses. Her responsibilities include supervising the quality/risk management, transition of care, respiratory/sleep lab, pharmacy, house supervisor, anesthesia and nursing departments.

Mike Hansen, president and CEO of CCH, said Bybee’s knowledge and skill set make her well-suited for the job.

“Dorothy is a good fit because of her background experience. She was the full package and has 28 years in nursing experience, 24 of which have been in nursing leadership roles,” he said.

The overlap before Walline leaves will help ensure a smooth transition, Hansen said.

Bybee said teaching and advocacy are her passions.

“I love nursing. God made me to be a wife, a mom and a nurse,” said the mother of three grown children.

What she appreciates about nursing is the mix of care required to work with patients while also incorporating science.

“I like that combo of the caring aspect with the science. There is clear evidence-based science and compassion that you can’t get away from,” she said.

Bybee received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from California State University and earned a master’s degree in nursing, business and health care management from the University of Phoenix in Arizona. She has also worked at Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Salina Regional Health Center in Salina, Kansas; and Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois.

The positions she held at those hospitals include nurse manager, director of critical care and director of acute care services. This will be her first as chief nursing officer, a move she is looking forward to.

“I really was ready to go up in leadership,” she said. “I hope I bring an expertise of high-quality care and high quality of patient satisfaction.”

Bybee said she hopes to get involved in the Columbus community when she moves here with her husband, Craig, who is a state building inspector in Kansas. In her free time, she enjoys photography and has a 1954 Chevrolet station wagon that is the focus of restoration projects and cruise night outings.

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