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Helping Hillside balance evolution of care, quality

Becoming a nurse was a natural decision for Ann Brennan Cott R.N.

Cott, who is one of four nurses in her family, has always enjoyed working with people and helping them through challenging times.

“It is extremely rewarding work,” she said.

Cott serves as director of nursing for Hillside Family of Agencies, where health care is provided in a behavioral health care setting. She provides administrative oversight of the health services team, overseeing a nursing salary budget of more than $3 million. She is also responsible for health care policy development and best practices guidelines.

Although her day-to-day responsibilities include more leadership duties than opportunities for hands-on patient care, her every effort revolves around the advancement of nursing throughout the organization. In her role, she supervises the activities of roughly 120 nurses who are working in residential and community-based programs. Their goal is to not only provide care to the adolescents at Hillside, but also deal with issues such as substance abuse, developmental disabilities and reproductive health care.

Cott’s colleagues describe her as the epitome of exceptional nursing and say she is focused on Hillside’s commitment to youth, as well as serving as a nurse advocate.

While she misses direct patient care, Cott enjoys being able to influence the way health care is provided at Hillside.

“I love being part of an interdisciplinary team, all working together to improve outcomes for the youth and families we serve,” she said.

Cott began her career as a nurse in 1987 at Strong Memorial Hospital, where she cared for children ages 11 to 18. Many of them had come from Hillside’s programs; while working with these children, she developed an affinity for the complex balance of care management that was required for those pediatric patients.

She started working at Hillside in 1989 as a nurse coordinator. She left in 2001 to work at the Children’s Home of Reading in Pennsylvania, but returned to Hillside in 2004 as a nurse manager.

Cott has been in her current job since 2006. Over her years at Hillside, Cott has developed a sense of how to address children’s medical issues within the context of the behavioral health concerns that necessitated their stay at Hillside.

A recent focus for Cott has been on integrating electronic medical records throughout the agency while ensuring the transition does not interfere with nursing care. And as Hillside moves toward a managed care model, Cott is helping the organization balance the evolution of care without sacrificing quality.

Cott is also a member of Hillside’s services overview committee, where she works with the agency’s board of directors to help them develop a stronger understanding of the health services model provided to the youth.

Carolyn Friedlander, a member of Hillside’s board of directors, said Cott’s achievements are equally matched by the respect she has gained from employees.

“She guides by example, with intelligence, warmth and humor,” Friedlander wrote in a nomination letter. “Ann … is truly an outstanding, hardworking leader in nursing service in our community.”

3/18/2016 (c) 2016 Health Care Achievement Awards Special Section. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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