August 13, 2010

Lytle-Barnaby has ‘best job in the world’ at PVHS

2010 Women of Distinction - Health and Human Services

Ruth Lytle-Barnaby never dreamed she’d be running a multimillion-dollar health-care foundation with a staff of 60 and a cadre of volunteers. In fact, the Cincinnati native actually started out studying the violin.


But she was always attracted to the idea of helping people, so she trained as a social worker and worked as a psychotherapist. She moved to Colorado when her geologist husband was accepted to graduate school.

Funny thing is, after 21 years, her job as executive director of the Poudre Valley Health System Foundation and Community Development still has her “jumping out of bed in the morning.”

“I have the best job in the world,” Lytle-Barnaby said. “I match up people who help other people. It’s a good fit.”

Lytle-Barnaby oversees three different foundations – one for the system and one each for Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland – because “people don’t give to a system, they give to the hospital.”

The foundations bring donors with a passion for health care together with providers with innovative ideas for patient care. In addition to the clinical and research areas, which include such programs as the PHVS Cancer Center, a community health outreach program to support new practices in Loveland and Greeley has been added to the mix.

That’s not the only change Lytle-Barnaby has seen in her two decades with PVHS. She started when the system and the foundation were in transition, when “there was a lot of angst over what we were going to become. Now it’s clear. There’s a world of difference in the culture, and it’s been a change for the better. Our patient satisfaction scores show that. Now we know it’s a lot of hard work.”

Lytle-Barnaby credits Beryl “Brownie” McGraw, volunteer extraordinaire and PVH Foundation board member, as one of the mentors who helped her along the way, not just professionally but personally.

“When I first got here, Brownie took me by the hand and made sure I understood the important things to pay attention to,” Lytle-Barnaby said. “She does this for about 80 people, but she’s always very welcoming if I have something I need to discuss.”

In keeping with her philosophy that helping others is the best way to get through tough times, Lytle-Barnaby volunteers with the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Empty Bowls event as well as on health-related coalitions such as CANDO, which now has more than 200 members in Fort Collins and Loveland combating obesity.

She said PVHS has been very good to her over the years, and she will stay “as long as they will have me, and as long as I’m making a difference.”

Lytle-Barnaby has two daughters – one plays the string bass – and her husband, who brought them to Colorado to study geology, has become a teacher.

“We never can really plan our careers,” she said. “We should just pay attention to opportunities that present themselves, and work hard to find a way to do what we want to do.

“I’m doing what I was meant to do,” she added.

Click here for a list of the
2010 Women of Distinction and links to their profiles.

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