Editor’s Note: McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living are profiling the McKnight’s 2021 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 6 through Aug. 6. To see the 2021 McKnight’s 2021 Women of Distinction awards ceremony, register for free here. For additional profiles of McKnight’s Women of Distinction, visit this page.

Traci Bullens’ career as a nurse as well as infection control coordinator led to her unique and challenging work on the front lines battling the pandemic. She was able to take on this difficult role using her attention to detail as well as the compassion that she has exhibited since earning her nursing degree.

Traci Bullens

Bullens started as an RN at Rockcastle Regional Hospital in her hometown of Mount Vernon, KY. After only six months, she became a charge nurse, where she took on additional responsibilities.

Her leadership abilities were noticed by her superiors and led to her new role as East Unit coordinator in 1997. 

It was there that Bullens found ways to quickly improve resident and patient care as well as safety protocols. In 2004, she again was promoted, this time to infection control coordinator. Later, she added the title of patient safety coordinator. 

At a respiratory care center serving people who depend on ventilation for breathing purposes, it became imperative to enact strong safety protocols. Bullens quickly adapted by creating new policies and systems to minimize resident, patient and staff member exposure.  

She also developed and initiated new training for staff and became the go-to person to answer all questions related to the pandemic as well as safety concerns and coordinated vaccination clinics.

Bullens devoted countless hours to keeping residents, patients and staff members safe and, as a result, was able to keep exposure to a minimum at the facility. 

“Traci is not just a leader — she is our most active participant and can be given much credit for the success we have experienced during this pandemic,” said Jana Bray, community relations director at Rockcastle.

Outside of her work in the hospital and care center, Bullens devotes time to volunteering in the school system by teaching CPR, putting hand sanitizer stations in schools and providing infection control training for students.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare, and the Roundtable Sponsor is Paycor.