HOUSTON (Feb. 15, 2019)—Toni Cotton is the new chief nursing officer (CNO) for Harris Health System’s Ambulatory Care Services, the primary and outpatient care arm of the safety-net healthcare system providing more than 2 million patient visits annually to residents of Harris County through its network health centers, school-based clinics, homeless shelters and specialty facilities.
Cotton, MHA, RN, BSN, a long-time resident of Katy, Texas, began her new role in January. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and is tasked to lead the organization through the transformation of its healthcare delivery system.
“I have a personal passion to bring healthcare services to the most vulnerable people in our community, where they live and work,” she says. “I love people and am excited to join the Harris Health family where I can live out my personal calling to serve patients and others through nursing-leadership building excellence.”
Her leadership philosophy calls for being a servant leader with integrity. She wants to build on Harris Health’s values of commitment, collaboration and relationship building for the entire team. Cotton plans to lead by example and nurture the next generation of nurses and nursing leadership, while promoting a holistic patient-care approach.
She wants to tackle diabetes. One of her goals is to continue Harris Health’s successful efforts to help patients decrease elevated hemoglobin A1c levels (three-month measures of patients’ sugar levels usually above 5.6 percent) and focus on patient self-care education initiatives to help them manage nutrition, exercise and follow-up care.
Cotton also will lead the service’s effort to achieve Pathway to Excellence, a nationally recognized nursing designation and work with physician partners from Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to increase specialty care at health center/clinic locations.
Prior to joining Harris Health, Cotton served as chief nursing officer at West Houston Medical Center, a 302-patient bed facility in Houston. During her time as CNO, the hospital achieved several national recognitions including Pathway to Excellence, bariatric center of excellence, primary stroke certification and the American Heart and Stroke Association’s Gold Mission Lifeline Award.
She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Houston Baptist University (HBU), a master’s degree in health administration from University of Phoenix and is currently pursuing a nurse executive board certification and doctorate degree in nursing practice (DNP) in executive leadership from the American Nurse Credential Center. She serves as adjunct-facility professor for HBU’s nursing leadership class with clinical site training at Harris Health’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.
“I’m dedicated to the nursing profession and creating a safe, excellent patient care experience and an atmosphere of teamwork where people can thrive and grow professionally,” she says. “I believe I have a sacred duty to always put patients first and foremost in all my leadership decisions.”
Cotton is a member of American Organization of Nurse Executives and American Nurses Association. She has three children and four grandchildren. When not working, she’s involved in church activities, enjoys the outdoors, gardening (growing fruit and pecan trees) and spending time with her family.