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200 Hospital Avenue
Jefferson, NC 28640

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Picture of The Director of Inpatient Services, Valeree Lentz standing in a hall way with Medical Equipment with her hands on a keyboard looking over at the camera wearing a mask and scrubs
Picture of The Director of Inpatient Services, Valeree Lentz standing in a hall way with Medical Equipment with her hands on a keyboard looking over at the camera wearing a mask and scrubs

Director of Inpatient Services combines passion for nursing and administrative drive to ensure "hidden gems" get the appreciation and recognition they deserve

It may be a single uplifting smile.

It might be the jovial sound of your best friend's laughter.

Or it could be the willingness to take a chance and stand beside the one person who needs it most.
Every move we make has the ability to impact someone else's life.

Just ask Valeree Lentz.

For Lentz, those moments of kindness inspired her to look beyond the obstacles and challenges we may face and instead focus on what we can do for others.

"I'm driven," says Lentz. "We can all learn from someone else. You shouldn't ever have to feel like you're stuck in a silo. No one can stop you if you get motivated."

As the new director of inpatient services, Lentz is combining her passion for nursing and her administrative drive to further enhance the efficiency and scope of the nursing department.

Every nursing role is important and with a little drive and motivation, you can accomplish just about anything. In her new role, Lentz hopes to hire more staff and provide additional educational and growth opportunities for nurses while acting as a mentor for new nursing graduates, especially on Med. Surg.

"It's important to have that rapport where you are comfortable asking questions," says Lentz. "I want to be that sounding board where they can talk things through. That's really important and it helps build that confidence."

With a desire to help people, Lentz always wanted to be in the healthcare industry and envisioned becoming a doctor. It wasn't until she became pregnant during her sophomore year of high school and the ensuing years that followed that Lentz learned the true meaning of strength.

At a time when some may be inclined to walk away, Lentz's classmate, Erin Isaacs, became a source of support. Together, the two attended classes, volunteered for Health Occupations Students of America blood drives, became part of Watauga High School's certified nursing assistant program and shared aspirations of becoming nurses.

"Me being a teenage mom didn't affect Erin at all," says Lentz. "She was always so uplifting and jovial. She could make you laugh and put a smile on your face. She was always the listener and would stick to her morals. Her heart was always involved in helping people."

A year later, in the midst of balancing motherhood and school work, Lentz watched her best friend struggle to sit down at her desk. Shortly thereafter, Isaacs was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that forms in the plasma cells of bone marrow.

For the next two years, Lentz stood by her best friend's side as she traveled back and forth to Texas for chemotherapy and radiation before sadly passing away when she was just 20 years old. The experience only furthered Lentz's desire to want to care for those in their time of need in honor of the one person whose support never wavered.

"Nurses are a hidden gem, says Lentz. "We see you at your best and at your worst, and we stay consistent throughout it all."

Lentz earned her nursing degree at Wilkes Community College and spent 15 years working for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. She began her career as a certified nursing assistant in the emergency room before moving up to team leader for the hospital's Intermediate Care Unit.

Lentz eventually reached a point in her career where she was drawn to both the clinical and administrative sides of nursing. At the time, Lentz was told you could either be a nurse or an administrator. You couldn't do both. Looking to prove them wrong, Lentz went and earned her MBA.

In January, Lentz joined Ashe Memorial Hospital after hearing how the hospital was patient-driven and community focused. Since then, Lentz has been tasked with scheduling interviews, attending staff meetings, looking at the budget and payroll and helping orient new nurses while at the same time jumping in as clinical leader or assisting in labor and delivery, among other roles.

"I enjoy the people," says Lentz. "Everyone here is so friendly and willing to answer multiple questions. We're trying to make things the most efficient we can, as we work toward working to our full scope and following best practices. All roles are important and this will give us a better understanding of what everyone has to do. With COVID it's been really hard, and I don't think nurses always get the appreciation and recognition they deserve."

When she's not busy helping others, Lentz enjoys crocheting and spending time with her husband, Adam, and 16-year-old daughter, Victoria. Together, the family enjoys fishing and kayaking on the lake, hiking and skiing.