June Chan’s health care career started in one of the nation’s first neonatal intensive care units, and now she administers Colorado Springs’ only fully accredited children’s hospital.
Chan has worked at Memorial Health System for seven years, and spearheaded the movement for the Children’s Hospital, which is affiliated with Denver’s Children’s Hospital. She also launched the hospitals’ Memorial Star Transportation, a helicopter transport system that brings adults, mothers, children and high-risk premature babies to Colorado Springs for treatment.
“I’m very impressed with her quiet leadership,” said Renita Wolf, vice president of Accordia Inc., who nominated Chan for the Women of Influence award. “I’ve known her for about a year now and she has a very effective leadership style — a very demonstrated, woman’s leadership style.”
Chan pinpoints several experiences that led her to her present accomplishments: In 1984, she was working for one of the new neonatal intensive care units when a contract went out for a hospital to serve all premature babies in the area. The hospital that received the contract ended up losing money, she said.
“And that’s when I went back to school for my first master’s (degree),” she said. “I realized that someone needed to speak the clinical language to people making the business decisions. It was an ah-ha moment for me. It’s not just about clinical care; it’s about the business of health care.”
Chan started her career as a clinical nurse, and then earned the first of two master’s degrees. She’s worked at the Denver Children’s Hospital and at the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va. All that experience led her to Memorial, where she encouraged the hospital to fill in the missing components in its pediatric department.
“We started a child life program, and bring in individuals who help children understand what is happening to them and what their treatment will be,” she said. “Sometimes just starting an IV on a child can be scary, so it really helps. It’s a component I’m glad we added.”
Chan is also responsible for the Memorial Children’s Hospital “healing arts” program — which uses visual, performing and other kinds of art within the children’s hospital. The program includes a portrait project, where 10 children’s portraits were sketched and displayed at the hospital. Each portrait, sketched by the mother of a patient, contains an individual message.
“The message is that children are our teachers, we just need to stop and listen to what they are conveying to us,” Chan said.
She also implemented a child-friendly process for children undergoing certain radiological procedures and created a home-care program for babies with congenital heart disease. The babies now go home with their parents while waiting for a donor heart for transplantation.
That dedication to family-centered care is one reason why Winnie Shows nominated Chan for the Business Journal award.
“I am very impressed with her professionalism,” she said. “But also she’s so involved with family-centered care — all those details that make health care easier for the families. She even made sure families were consulted for the design of the new hospital.”
Chan’s passion for helping children carries over into her personal life. She has two children — 13 and 16 — and says they keep teaching her as they grow.
“Every stage is better,” she said. “They are becoming their own individuals now, and that is so fascinating to watch. I have two master’s degrees and they have taught me more than anything else in my life. They see things fresh, through new eyes. It’s a great way to keep seeing the world.”
In addition to her family, Chan is involved with the Chinese Cultural Institute in Colorado Springs. The institute’s goal is to help people understand what the Chinese offer, she said.
“We’re still pretty young,” she said. “We want people to know what we are like in terms of culture, the arts and in business — what we can bring to Colorado Springs and the world.”
As a first-generation American, Chan said she is teaching her children to view their community as their neighborhood — and then expand it to include the entire world.
“We just had a big event … to celebrate the Chinese Moon Festival,” she said. “It’s one of the top events for the Chinese.”
Chan expands her Asian influence to other boards as well. She is currently serving on the board for the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, a nonprofit association that will draw together the arts and humanities associations in Colorado Springs.
She has served on the Board of Trustees for both Memorial Hospital and the Beth-El College of Nursing. She’s also served on the March of Dimes planning board and is on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation board.
In 2004, she was chosen to be a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellowship Program. She won the 2005 Nightingale Award for Nursing Leadership Excellence and was a finalist for the award in 2004.