Leana Tennison has a heart for helping.
As a child that vital organ nearly killed her, and while she now has a strong and healthy heart the life-threatening experience shaped her life, and her career path.
Tennison has been named the new Director of Nursing at Columbia Basin Care, a not-for-profit nursing home in The Dalles offering long-term care and short-term rehabilitation. She joined Columbia Basin in September 2016, managing the clinical needs of over 60 residents and providing leadership to a team of caregivers.
“When I was little I wanted to be a cardiologist,” she says, a nod to the doctors who treated and saved her from patent ductus arteriosus in the 1970s.
At just 10 months old, Tennison underwent surgery to repair the heart defect. By age 12, she was given a clean bill of health, and a clear focus on her future.
Determined to help others, Tennison became a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and then a certified medication aide (CMA). Expanding her experience and skills, she went on to work in medical records and as a staffing coordinator.
In 2004, she earned her nursing degree from Columbia Gorge Community College. Armed with wound care training, she worked as a trauma nurse at the intensive care unit of Mid-Columbia Medical Center. She’s served in nursing and leadership capacities at long-term care facilities in the region. Most recently, she was Assistant Director of Nursing at the Oregon Veterans’ Home.
“Leana has a solid foundation of clinical skills, combined with a calm temperament,” says Valerie Hiveley-Blatz, Columbia Basin Care’s in-house primary care provider, specializing in geriatrics. “I’ve worked with Leana for years, and Columbia Basin is very lucky to have her. She’s a problem solver who is good at navigating paperwork and working with residents and their families.”
Born in Tucson, Arizona, Tennison moved to The Dalles in 1987, and has one grown son. She is married to Jasen Tennison, who works at Columbia Basin Care as an occupational therapist for Consonus Healthcare. The couple have been married 10 years and can be spotted around town in their bright yellow 1963 Austin Healey Roadster, which was named “Best Sports Car” in the 2016 Cruise the Gorge, Show in the Shade event.
“We’re so happy to have Leana on the team,” says Aubree Olmstead, Executive Director of Columbia Basin Care. “She provides both professional leadership and a warm, caring heart.”