Smile Politely

Celebrating C-U Life: Lynne Barnes

The halls of Carle Foundation Hospital’s North Clinic are a little quieter than the normal hustle and bustle of the rest of the hospital. On the 8th floor is a bank of administrative offices. In one of these offices sits the Vice President of Operations. It is a job that she loves because of the potential it has to improve the lives of the patients. With her day scheduled right down to the minute, Lynne Barnes finds opportunity each day to do something great.

Originally from Catlin, Lynne is the daughter of a father who is a farmer and realtor and a mother who is a secretary at an accounting firm. The youngest of three, Lynne speaks fondly of the family environment in which she grew up. Her parents encouraged her to appreciate the details each day and to share daily experiences with them. They encouraged their children to see the world as their oyster. Taking this to heart, each sibling has excelled in his/her field. Her sister began two newspapers in the Boston area where they were eventually sold for larger distribution. Her brother is a lawyer in the Scottsdale area. Lynnee, as she was affectionately called as a child, has always believed in getting things done. Now she’s affectionately called the “energizer bunny” by co-workers as she continues to uphold this way of thinking. It’s easy to see why. She’s bubbly, energetic, and her smile never escapes her face.

Her college journey didn’t initially lead her to the destination where she currently is now. She started off wanting a career in sports. She played basketball with her brother when she was younger. Once she got to college she thought she would try her hand playing for the women’s basketball team at the University of Illinois. While that didn’t work out for her, it didn’t keep her from trying out for other spots in group activities. She also tried out for the marching band and thought she would make a good addition as a trombone player. The band leader thought otherwise. But she kept right at it. It was in a music class that she was given the opportunity to try her hand at occupational therapy. She saw a brochure on a classmate’s chair for the occupational therapy program at the U of I. She looked it over and decided to look into it further. The program office was not far from her music class so she ventured over. As luck would have it, a candidate didn’t show up for the interview that day so the program director interviewed Lynne for the position. And thus began her career in occupational therapy.

Lynne sees OT as an opportunity to change someone’s life. Patients are vulnerable and in a position that requires them to put their faith in their healthcare providers. Wanting to live up to the expectations of the patients, Lynne believes in being patient-focused. The rewards of this line of work are never-ending, as she has been able to see the changes firsthand. “It takes skills and spirit to make a job work,” Lynne says. The job of the therapist is to provide skills and loads of encouragement to others. Even though she no longer provides direct care to patients, she still feels she can be pivotal in the care they receive. As an administrator she can, ensuring that patients have access to services and providers. She does add that the one thing that is integral with that endeavor is having enough providers. This is something that the healthcare industry, especially in the Champaign community, can work on in the coming years. The community has an abundance of medical resources. It is finding the right healthcare professionals to utilize the resources in the best interest of the patient.

In the Champaign community there is more than one healthcare facility. Barnes notes that this encourages healthy competition among facilities, which is good. It keeps facilities on their toes and constantly pushing to provide the best quality care. One challenge facilities can face with the current economic state is that less money is coming in but the quality of care must continue to improve. There are tough choices to be made but the focus must always be on patient care. When asked about the recent decision by the Supreme Court to uphold national healthcare, Barnes states that there will obviously be more people with access to healthcare. The question will be where to put them all. She adds that there will be lots of opportunity for facilities to respond to this new situation. Returning to the friendly competition between health facilities, the need to provide quality care can be the difference in who new patients choose to seek care from.

Care includes self-care. Lynne takes care of herself with weekends of rollerblading and time with family. Her daughter, the owner of Bella Bambini Children’s Boutique, is Barnes’ only child. Her daughter is married to an officer of the Champaign Police Department, and has two children. Lynne pulls out the photos of her grandchildren: Maggie, 5, and Sebastian, 3. With a service ethic likely inherited from her mother, daughter Jennifer’s business has evolved to offer new service for customers. Lynne’s husband, Dick, is retired from the U of I. On Friday nights the family can be found at a local Mexican eatery, which has become a family tradition. She and her husband also enjoy U of I athletics and are looking forward to the upcoming seasons with the new head coaches. Lynne jokes that even outside of work every waking moment is pretty much planned. “I can probably tell you just about anytime what I’m doing three weeks from now.” She attends church at First Christian Church, is involved in a weekly women’s exercise group, and likes to get out to the Farmer’s Market in Urbana when she can. She doesn’t always have time to do cooking at home, but is encouraging her husband to try his hand at making a coffee cake. She’ll be there to supervise, of course.

Lynne feels she’s right where she’s supposed to be. Serving patients and finding new ways to provide care. She could also see herself as an athletic director or the owner of an outdoor adventure facility, though. “Wouldn’t it be great to get paid to hike and ride horses all day!” Even with a job where she would again have personal enjoyment her focus is still on the consumer and what they can get from the service. While winning the lottery for many would mean the end to work and public service, for Barnes it would be another beginning. “I would give away 50%.” After securing financial opportunity for her daughter and daughter’s family, Barnes says she would love to pay off someone’s mortgage or provide a new future for someone in need. After a few more minutes of thought, and a quick suggestion from one of her interns, Barnes amends her original statement and adds that she would buy a nice vacation home. Definitely not unreasonable for someone who devotes so much time to others.

When Lynne thinks about a song that would describe who she is she references Katy Perry’s song “Firework.” The song, to her, is encouraging and makes her feel as though anything is possible. Barnes definitely has created her own song. Her personality is an upbeat song with a catchy tune. Her work is a beautiful melody and her passion for helping others is a chorus we all wish we knew the words to.

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