Bettie Caldwell, CPA, CGMA
Director of Finance – Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital
You work for a health care system. How has COVID-19 impacted your role?
Forecasting and analysis of shifts in the types of care we are providing has become even more important. Many facilities across the country are relying on cash reserves, due to shifts away from profitable areas of care, and interruptions in some types of services. There are patients who are delaying care either because they are afraid to come to the facility or they have lost their health insurance. This makes for a very challenging environment as we look to the future.
How has COVID-19 impacted the care of patients and hospital staff?
For patients, I think one of the biggest challenges has been our visitor restrictions. We have always been very open with our visitor guidelines, but we have had to restrict visitors in order to keep our patients and staff safe during the pandemic. It has been very difficult for our staff to see patients alone when they are so ill, and it is obviously stressful for the patients and their families as well.
CPAs have had to quickly adapt to new technology as many are working from home right now. What’s your favorite app/technology and why?
Microsoft Teams has been wonderful. We were using it in a limited way prior to the shift to working from home, but now it is really ingrained in our everyday lives. I love the way it allows me to share my screen, chat with others online and provides a seamless interface for meetings.
What is the best thing you’ve read recently?
A good friend of mine gave me a book of poetry by William Stafford called “The Way It Is.” During this time of isolation and uncertainty, it has been very comforting. One of my favorite poems in the book is called “You Reading This, Be Ready.”
Why did you decide to become a CPA?
Accounting is a second career for me. I started out in health care as a respiratory therapist. I sort of fell into accounting after working as a bookkeeper part time. I was ready for a career change and loved the possibilities being a CPA would bring. I wasn’t wrong!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Strategy! We work hard to find a way to fund all of the services our community needs. Some areas are underfunded by insurance, and we need to balance the need for different types of care against our ability and the cost to provide them.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the profession?
Start with a broad position that will give you exposure to a variety of roles before you decide to specialize in any one area. Your career will span a lifetime. Don’t be in a hurry to settle down.
Since you’re working from home right now, how do you unwind after a busy day?
I love to work in my yard, so I pull weeds, water plants and enjoy the beauty of the flowers. Our dog has been for lots of walks as well!
You have a lot of interesting hobbies. What are you doing in your photo?
My husband, Chris, and I have competed twice in the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Newry, Maine. The prize for the winning couple is a cash award, and the wife’s weight in beer. We have not come close to winning, but have had the distinction of being the oldest combined age couple. We are hoping to get one more race in before our bones get too brittle!
What do you like best about working for IU Health?
IU Health has been at the forefront of the COVID pandemic in research, developing its own test early on. I’m very proud to be a part of this team, but not just because of our expertise. We are also a leader in the way we treat our patients and team members. We are always quick to take a stand for the rights of all, whether it is BLM, ensuring transgendered persons receive the best health care, or taking care of our employees who need support. When many other health systems were furloughing employees at the start of the pandemic, we made certain to protect the pay of our employees and kept everyone working.