This gave Debbie situational advantage, also known negotiation leverage. My guess is that the administrator was simply willing to pay what Debbie wanted to keep her at the facility.
Debbie apparently set an ambitious target figure within a well-researched market value salary range. Combine that with her situational advantage, and she was able to secure a hefty hike in salary.
As the economy rebounds to a point where companies ramp up recruitment with competitive salaries, you may start looking for a new employer. Do the research on the fair market value of your position given your experience, geographic location, etc., and set an ambitious target based on the salary range you uncover. Assess and explore ways to increase your negotiation leverage before engaging the other party in discussion.
Changing jobs is the best way to significantly increase your salary; a negotiated offer with a new employer should be higher than any annual raise you might get with a current employer. To score a higher starting salary, keep your negotiation leverage in mind as you plan for your next job in better times ahead.