Leanne Salazar, APRN, DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), MBA and past Chief Operating Officer at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, has been named Chief Nurse Executive for HCA’s West Florida Division. HCA is the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services.
And although her nursing career began in the 1990s, her healing spirit seems inherent within her.
“Ever since I was a little girl, my mom tells me that I was always helping others. If someone at my nursery school needed help, I would step forward to help them,” said Salazar. “And for the occasion of my First Communion, when my grandmother–who was ill with cancer–was unable to attend, my family went to visit her afterward. I knew that I needed to do something for her, so I took off my corona (a floral headpiece that is part of one’s Communion dress) and handed it to her.”
In Salazar’s mind, nursing is the ultimate giving profession.
“Being a nurse isn’t just about administering medication and changing a dressing,” she said. “It’s holistic. It’s everything.”
Salazar earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from American Sentinel University, her Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida.
Starting out as a CNA, Salazar quickly discovered that she had found her life’s calling.
“I loved taking care of people,” she said. “You’re with people when they’re at their most vulnerable state. They could be at the beginning of their life or at the end, or at a stressful change of life. When you’re their nurse, you can make a difference. And they’ll remember you forever.”
Moving quickly up the ranks and into the field of nursing administration, Salazar held multiple leadership positions at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. She joined Oak Hill Hospital as Vice President of Quality in 2011 and was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer in 2013; finally becoming the hospital’s COO in 2019.
During her time at Oak Hill, Salazar is credited with providing the hospital with one of the lowest RN turnover rates in the company, the highest percentage of board-certified nurses in the country, and an HCA Unit of Distinction winner every year since 2015, including the number one unit in HCA Healthcare in 2019.
“Leanne is remarkable,” said Oak Hill Hospital CEO Mickey Smith. “She sets such a high bar of leadership, with her confidence and caring. She is a role model.”
The woman who loves to care for others has shown this love in so many ways throughout the Hernando community and has experience serving on the board of directors for the Dawn Center Domestic and Sexual Violence Services center and as a clinical director for the Hernando County Sexual Assault Nurses. She is also scheduled to participate in a leadership panel at the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Summit, an event set to take place 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM March 5 at Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill.
And in many ways, she cares for other nurses as well.
“My vision is always to make my hospital the provider of choice for patients, and nurses play a big part. I think that it’s important for every nurse to be board certified,” said Salazar. “Some nurses are afraid to try for certification. I tell them they can do it. I send them cards of encouragement.”
Salazar will have the opportunity to lead many more nurses in her new position as the Chief Nurse Executive for HCA’s West Florida Division, which a related press release describes as “a comprehensive network of hospitals, outpatient surgery, and diagnostic imaging facilities, physician practices, medical education and training programs and a complete continuum of specialized health programs and services that meet the healthcare needs of residents and businesses in West Florida communities.”
“My position covers 15 acute care hospitals and other care facilities from Citrus to Lee county,” she said. “My job is to support the chief nursing executive at each hospital.”
Dr. Ravi Chari, President of HCA’s West Florida Division, is pleased to welcome Salazar to his staff.
“Every day we seek to raise the bar higher not just for ourselves, but for healthcare everywhere,” said Chari in a related press release. “I am thrilled to have Leanne leading the charge with our nursing caregivers to ensure we deliver the highest quality care to the patients we are privileged to serve.”
And regardless of where Salazar’s position takes her throughout the state, she always has one mission in mind.
“My mission is always to inspire, motivate and empower nurses,” she said, “to provide exceptional care.”