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Veteran health care is a labor of love

Robert Houk • Updated Mar 6, 2019 at 5:56 PM

 Colleen Noe of Johnson City is associate director of the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Her responsibilities include the business office, human resources, logistics and voluntary services.

When she is not working, Noe enjoys traveling with friends and family, especially international travel.

“Being able to explore new places and cultures is very exciting,” she said.

Fast Facts

• Ideal getaway: “I usually think of the beach. Any beach.” 

• Favorite dessert: “I’m not a dessert girl. Give me a cheese course and a glass of wine and I’m a happy camper.”

• Best advice: “Two pieces of advice I live by are 1.) Be Kind and 2.) She who hath data hath no need to yell.”

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS?

I am the associate director for the Mountain Home VA Medical Center and our 12 community sites of care (soon to be 13), including a large clinic in Knoxville. In this role I manage the administrative services to make sure our employees have all the tools and training they need to provide the highest quality of care and customer services possible to our veterans. 

WHAT LED YOU TO THIS WORK?

I went down a completely different career path than I had planned when I was in school. I’m an audiologist by training, and have always enjoyed the interaction with patients and making a difference in their lives.

Eight years ago I had a chance to take a detail assignment on the hospital leadership team as the acting deputy chief of staff. My eyes were opened to how I could work with others in the hospital to improve processes and make things more efficient. When the associate director’s position became available last year, I jumped at the opportunity. I have been incredibly fortunate to advance my career and stay at Mountain Home.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY?

That’s a tough question because no two days are ever the same. I really enjoy coaching and mentoring employees who are just beginning their careers. I was fortunate to have mentors throughout my career who helped guide me. I want to pay that forward to our employees.

I also appreciate working with departments on new initiatives. Our Nutrition and Food Service staffers have completely changed how they menu plan, cook and serve food to our inpatients. We are now cooking fresh food daily and will soon be offering bedside menu planning with patients. Our veterans have really embraced this change and our employees have a lot of pride in the improved service they are providing.

Our Volunteer Services recently rolled out a Red Coat Ambassador program. This program is staffed by volunteers, who help our patients find their way to their appointments. We have a group of employees who have been working to bring a weekly farmers market to Mountain Home beginning this spring. I’m really excited about this program because it a partnership with community growers to provide fresh produce to our patients and employees.

WHO HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR LIFE?

My parents. They have been married for 56 years and live in Greeneville. My mom is a rock star. She has always been the foundation and moral compass for our family. I get my work ethic from my dad. He worked his way up from a front-line employee to the plant manager at TRW/Parker Hannifin and always managed to put his family first. I’m very blessed to have them close by.

HOW DO YOU RELIEVE STRESS?

I work with a trainer three nights a week. Right now we are doing a lot of boxing.

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