Not long after she landed a job in the housekeeping department at KVH Hospital in January, 1974, Debi Barneycastle – then 19 – considered quitting.
Forty years later, she's glad she stayed the course – and proud of the contributions she's made because she did.
What the 59-year-old Barneycastle knows now that she didn't know then were the doors that would open to opportunity, the growth she would experience because of it and the relationships she would build along the way.
“To build from within – we were good at that,” says Barneycastle, who speaks from experience.
After eight months in housekeeping, Barneycastle advanced to a job working in the registration desk.
A couple of years later, she became a billing clerk, doing bills by hand. At 23, she left to have her first child and be a stay-at-home mom. The plan proved short-lived. She was back in six months. When the hospital began keying in data for its billing system, she trained to do it. By 1985, she was director of data processing, by 1991, director of information services.
By then, she'd also done a stint as interim business manager after former business manager Chic Powers, a woman Barneycastle says was a powerful influence in her life, retired.
When KVH Hospital and four other rural hospitals joined in an effort to choose a computer system that would work for all of them, Barneycastle, then director of information services, was named to the team. “I was the only computer person on that five-hospital team,” she says. “The rest had other roles.”
It was a confidence builder, powerful testimony to the faith KVH leaders had in her.
“What made me successful was that I wasn't afraid to get in and get my hands dirty,” says Barneycastle who currently serves as the hospital's director of compliance and revenue cycle.
Directing revenue cycle “is an umbrella for anything to do with money,” she says. Duties range from negotiating the hospital's contracts with insurance companies to overseeing the hospital's licensure to monitoring patient charges for accuracy.
As director of compliance she makes sure KVH Hospital is up-to-date on and following rules and regulations set up by the federal Office of the Inspector General regarding how both employees and patients are treated.
Much has changed since the early days, she says, and it's not just the advent of constantly evolving technology and new regulations governing hospital operations. Services have grown. So has the number of employees providing them.
“When I first started here there were 100 employees,” she says. Now, there are over 550.
“I've worked for every administrator of this organization,” she says. “There's only a couple of people who can say that.” Among them: Deb Brunner, director of patient finances who came on board at the same time Barneycastle did and is a personal friend.
Relationships like that are part of the treasures of the job, says Barneycastle who acknowledges that forging those close personal bonds may become more challenging in the future as KVH grows to meet community needs.
“I've celebrated all the important moments of my life here,” she says. “It's all been good.”
Well, with one major exception.
“I did write a letter of resignation one time because the controller at the time and I did not see eye-to-eye,” she says. “The administration told me to take two weeks off. When I came back, that person was not here.”
With retirement no longer just a distant speck on the horizon, Barneycastle reflects happily on her four decades at KVH Hospital.
“I've left a footprint on this organization, I think,” she says. “I've been privileged to have great jobs and great bosses. I think this is the greatest organization in the world.”