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Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Healthcare Pivots With Pandemic, Needs New Investment in People

2024 ECONOMIC TRENDS: Preview SDBJ's Jan. 31 Event

Kerry Forde
Chief Operating Officer
Kaiser Permanente San Diego

Kerry Forde, RN, BSN, MSc, CENP, CPHQ, CPHRM, CPPS, CLNC, is chief operating officer for Kaiser Permanente San Diego.

Forde commenced her nursing career in 1989 at Westminster Hospital in London, specializing in gynecological oncology nursing, later expanding her focus to become a registered nurse midwife, specializing in midwifery services for those seeking a home birthing experience.

In 1998, Forde transitioned into primary care and oversaw nursing services of the west London primary care trust in a leadership capacity. It was during this time she developed a passion for understanding how social inequalities impacted the health of individuals and communities. To that end, Forde obtained a master’s degree in health and social policy and obtained her public health certification, transitioning into public health management within the child protective agency of the UK’s National Health Service. She also volunteered with various inner London health inequality groups as an advocate for the health and social rights for the underserved population.


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Forde returned to bedside nursing when she moved to the United Sates in 2002 and acquired state licensing in New York and California. She served as a telemetry and orthopedic nurse before transitioning to the quality and safety arena, joining Kaiser Permanente in 2014 as Quality Leader, a position she held until being appointed Chief Nurse Executive in April 2019. She has most recently been appointed the Chief Operating Officer for San Diego, a role she believes is her dream job.

Forde holds professional certifications in quality, risk management, patient safety, nurse executive leadership and is a certified legal nurse consultant. Her interests are in serving the needs of at-risk children in San Diego County and advocating for women’s and children’s health and social needs.

The Post-Pandemic Workforce: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Every healthcare provider in the nation has been facing staffing shortages and fighting burnout. During the “great resignation” in 2021 and 2022, more than 5 million people left their healthcare jobs across the country. Currently, almost two-thirds of healthcare staff say they are burnt out and more than 1 in 5 are quitting. While these statistics are sobering, they also provide a clear call to action to the healthcare community. We must reimagine our recruitment and employee retention strategies to ensure we are able to attract and retain a highly skilled, talented and competent workforce to care for our patients.

Healthcare workers are savvy and are now in a position to be more selective than ever when choosing where to work. To remain competitive, healthcare providers must think beyond just offering excellent pay and benefits. From tuition assistance and training to team-based problem-solving models, innovation initiatives and providing strong workplace safety programs, we must make investing directly in our people and their growth potential our top priority.

The Post-Pandemic Patient: Transforming How We Deliver Care

Multiple barriers to accessing care during the pandemic demanded rapid change in how we provided care. Innovative technologies, protocols and approaches were immediately implemented. E-visits, video and telehealth appointments within the primary care and behavioral health settings became the “new normal” in what seemed to be in the blink of an eye.

Although these measures were born first from necessity, their prolonged use has dramatically shifted the perspectives, needs and expectations of patients today as we slowly resume our everyday lives at a pace that resembles our lives before COVID-19. Healthcare providers across the nation are becoming less burdened by a backlog of surgical procedures and patients are presenting with lower health acuities. Once again, we have an opportunity to focus on preventive health and get patients back on track to living a healthier life. What perhaps has changed forever is how we must deliver care to meet the needs of our post-pandemic patients who have grown accustomed to the convenience and real-time access of digital health services and multiple care modalities.

As an industry, we recognize the need to further evolve streamlined hybrid care models that combine traditional, virtual and alternative care sites such as retail and mobile clinics. By expanding access to care, we are more likely to retain our patient population and provide the care they need to live long, healthy lives.

2030 Seismic Standards Threat to Hospital Care Access

As the hubs of healthcare, and often one of its largest employers, hospitals are a vital part of communities across California. Under current law, any hospital building that does not meet the state’s 2030 seismic standards by January 1, 2030, will be required to close and patient care will cease at those facilities. Currently, almost all hospitals have met the 2020 seismic safety standards created by the state of California which ensures they will not collapse, and patients and workers will remain safe during an earthquake. Unfortunately, more than 60% of hospitals across the state are in jeopardy to meet the state’s 2030 seismic requirements. Resulting hospital closures would significantly reduce access to healthcare, and our most vulnerable populations would be hit the hardest. Communities would experience longer wait times, suffer from less capacity during surges of patients, and need to travel farther for specialty and emergency department care. Keeping our employees and patients safe, as well as preserving access to care in the future is a shared commitment across the healthcare community, and working together to propose thoughtful and practical reform to current guidelines that allow robust access to care must remain a top priority for our community.



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