Citizen Spotlight: Tina Cook

Tina Cook has made a big impact in Excelsior Springs since starting in her role as Community Education Coordinator (photo S Jason Cole).

Those who have been paying attention may have noticed the improved conditions at our local hospital over the past several years. Overall, the staff is friendly and upbeat and employees’ morale is high. One of the most visible and outgoing employees is Community Education Coordinator, Tina Cook. Although she’s only served in her role for less than two years, she’s made an incredible impact on the culture at the hospital and organizations within the community.

Tina said she was raised in a pretty dysfunctional family where she and her sister weren’t able to put down many roots. “Growing up, I don’t remember ever going to the same school two years in a row until we moved [to the Kansas City area],” she explained. Her family moved to Kansas City when she was 13 and she was able to go to the same high school for the next few years. As adults, she and her sister both knew they wanted a different experience for their own families. Her sister landed in Excelsior and Tina and her husband John ended up moving to Lawson where they raised their children. “These communities are very different from most. They actually pour into your family. Our kids have been to the same school their entire life, my children know their teachers on a personal basis. Their teachers came to their weddings!” she smiled. 

Tina just finished a book about overcoming the difficulties in her life which will be published in early 2023 (submitted photo).

Before joining the team at Excelsior Springs Hospital Tina worked for a decade as a regional nurse consultant traveling almost constantly. At first, she didn’t mind the travel but as time went on she began feeling pulled in a different direction. “Every time I was in a hotel I was feeling lonely and homesick… and so I was like, okay Lord, you must have a different direction you’re wanting me to go,” she said. Around that time Tina was in Excelsior Springs conducting surveys for the hospital where she met CEO Kristen DeHart. She let Kristen know about her desire to find something closer to home, and the rest as they say is history.

Tina with her husband John and their children and grandson (submitted photo).

In her role as Community Education Coordinator, Tina has made an immediate impact. She provides educational opportunities for the hospital staff but she also looks outward to see how the hospital can offer services to the community. Some of her favorite activities include the customized employee orientations for hospital staff and participating in the physician orientations. “We’ve had doctors say, they’ve never had an experience where they’ve had an orientation process that’s geared just for them,” she explained. Tina helps employees get familiar with the inner workings of the hospital but also with the amenities that Excelsior Springs has to offer, encouraging them to become active members of the community.

Tina works to make the hospital more visible in the community, bringing physicians and staff to community events to educate the public. There are regular events at the Community Center, there have been events at the Colony Plaza and recently the hospital began offering financial counseling services to clients at the Good Samaritan Center. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of those Medicaid applications, but a lot of times people might be eligible and they just can’t figure it out because it’s so complex. So to have financial counselors that are willing to come to you and help them so that they can get the resources they need. That’s huge. I hope people really start taking advantage of that,” she said excitedly. Tina also helps to promote other hospital-funded services such as Excelsior Springs S.A.F.E. (Substance Abuse-Free Environments). “It’s all just getting started so I’m excited to see where it goes,” she said.

Check out all of the great events Tina has helped facilitate!

Tina said she’s proud to be a part of a thriving culture of positive growth at Excelsior Springs Hospital. As the culture improves it becomes contagious, and as word spreads more great people want to be a part of that culture. “There’s that momentum behind us right now where it’s a healthy culture. It’s a great team. It’s excellent leadership. We’re moving forward. We’re expanding we’re growing and people love their jobs. That is wonderful for the patients but it also is allowing us to draw good talent,” she beamed. Tina explained that there are people who drive an hour or more just to work in an environment where they feel valued and where they enjoy working each day. 

Tina is proud of her family too. While she and John have worked hard to instill values and morals into their children who are now young adults, she gives a lot of credit to the community that has shown them support.  “We didn’t raise these kids by ourselves. It was our community. It was our church family. It was their teachers. It was the coaches. Everybody has a part in the reason that our kids grew up to be successful productive members of society. It truly does take a village,” she said.

In today’s world, it’s easy to get caught up in the mindset of ‘bigger is better,’ but Tina encouraged citizens to work on small acts of kindness. Many of the people she recalls having the most influence over her life were teachers and community members sharing a kind words of encouragement. “Heroes don’t become heroes without making good decisions one at a time, small steps every day, and continuing that path… those small daily kindnesses, those small acts make big impacts. That’s what changes the world, I think.” she smiled. 

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