Karen Likes of Huron has a passion for nursing that began in high school as a candy striper and has continued throughout her 33-year career. For 27 years, she has served in various capacities in the surgery department at Fisher-Titus Medical Center including staff nurse, certified RN First Assist, systems coordinator and for the past eight years as director of surgical services.
Most recently, Likes represented Fisher-Titus on a statewide level as one of 66 hospital employees nominated for the Ohio Hospital Association’s Albert E. Dyckes Health Care Worker of the Year. As a nominee, Likes attended OHA’s annual recognition dinner Tuesday, June 13. The ultimate winner of this state award was Rebecca Daniels, clinical manager, Cardiovascular Stepdown Unit, The Christ Hospital Health Network in Cincinnati.
“Karen was nominated for this award because of all she has accomplished since she joined the Medical Center in 1990 and what she does to ensure that local residents have a safe environment for optimal patient care in the surgery setting,” said Lorna Strayer, president and CEO of Fisher-Titus Medical Center.
As director of surgical services, Likes supervises 78 staff members and manages seven divisions of the surgery department. She functions daily as mentor, problem solver and mediator all while keeping her caring spirit. On a hospital-wide level, Likes is a master in project management and has led such initiatives as developing a robotics program, managing a multiphase construction project and establishing an outpatient procedure center.
Likes discovered her interest in surgery while at a metropolitan hospital. She enrolled in rigorous training to scrub and circulate in its 22 ORs, working there until relocating to Ohio. In 1990, she became a Fisher-Titus surgical staff nurse. Always accepting new tasks, Likes certified as an RN First Assist in 2001 and served as Systems Coordinator, helping build surgery’s first Electronic Medical Record.
As director of surgical services, Likes has guided her staff and surgeons through tremendous growth. A master in project management, Likes led initiatives to develop a robotics program, establish an outpatient procedure center and manage a multi-phase renovation.From 2103-2015, Likes served on the planning team for surgery’s $16 million, 42,000 square- foot, multi-phase construction project. Simultaneously she managed her department continuing full surgery schedules, always keeping patient safety first.
“As an OR nurse, you set up the room for the day, plan, and prepare for any situation,” Likes said. She practices this “technique” with tasks outside the OR.
“I think about the situation from everybody’s perspective, address what might arise and have a plan of action to ensure a good outcome.”
Likes gives 100% and beyond. “Karen attacks the list and is very methodical. Whatever the project is, it is important to her,” said Vicki McMahon, who has worked with Likes for 25 years, Vicki said. “Karen sets a high standard. It’s not good enough to just get it done, it has to be done well.”
In 2016, the surgery department performed 8,098 cases. Likes ensures she and her staff provide the community’s surgical needs in a safe and innovative manner.
Over the years, Karen has always “stepped up” to volunteer at community events including staffing the hospital’s booth at the county fair, fitting children with bicycle helmets through the Fisher-Titus Helmets for Kids program or attending a special event at the mall to guide attendees through a “test drive” of a robot—similar to the one utilized for robotic-assisted surgery.
In addition, Karen is the president of her local Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses chapter, has served on the chapter’s board of directors and is an advisory board member for EHOVE Career Center’s surgical technologist program.