Ed Kent’s superpower might be taking care of others. He’s been using this superpower to help patients at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates (OOA) for the last 14 years.
He joined OOA as an Orthopaedic Technician after 22 years of ortho experience in the military, working his way up to Nursing Floor Supervisor at OOA’s Westside Clinic.
Today, Kent’s nametag sports the title “Clinic Supervisor.” He’s applying his years of experience in orthopaedics and his deep understanding of the people and systems at OOA to run the Westside Clinic as smoothly and efficiently as possible. When asked what he likes best about his new role he says with a laugh, “Honestly, I’m really enjoying that I don’t have to answer to anyone! But really, the thing I enjoy the most is that it hasn’t been a big transition,” he continues, a bit more serious. “I was doing many aspects of this job anyway from where I was as Floor Supervisor. But now I have the freedom to institute changes that are needed, ones I’ve been thinking about for a long time.”
Kent may joke about being “at the top” but is quick to share accolades for the new management team at OOA. “One of the big reasons I accepted the position was that we had a change of management at the top and have a great CEO in Ben Shah and a strong management team — the billing team, our patient access coordinator, our Physical Therapy director, the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) director. I’m excited for the future,” Kent says.
The feeling is mutual for CEO Ben Shah. “When the Clinic Administrator role came open, it was really a no-brainer to promote Ed,” Shah shares. “He has a rapport with the physicians, staff, and management team that is positive and supportive. He really exemplifies what we’re trying to do here at OOA in building an open, positive culture where people want to work.”
As Nursing Floor Supervisor, Kent was highly visible to patients, helping predominantly in the cast room, calming nervous children (or parents!), offering assurance to athletes that they would heal or simply offering his expertise in answering common questions. Today, Kent’s role is decidedly more administrative. However, he still finds time to slip into the cast room to help out. “I still get to see my patients — I still get hugs, too,” he says, smiling. “They ask me, ‘Now that you are the supervisor, are you going to start wearing a suit?’ I tell them, ‘No way.’ I’m still going to have interactions with my patients. You can’t ever take me away from patients.” It’s true — look for him at OOA in his signature blue scrubs.
Kent’s knowledge of what it’s like “in the trenches” at OOA, coupled with his orthopaedic experience, is creating change and progress for the better throughout the clinic. An important change instigated by Kent is the training of Medical Assistants (MAs) to apply and remove casts. “It used to be just David and me who could put on or take off casts,” Kent shares. Thanks to Kent’s training initiative, 15 MAs have gone through training and are able to help in the cast room. “My goal is get 100 percent of them trained and able to help out,” shares Kent.
It’s Kent’s innate understanding of the inner workings of OOA that allows him to see, and respond to, the most pressing needs. “We were always short on experienced X-ray techs (XT),” he says. Often XTs would move to MRI or CAT Scan departments after learning X-ray skills, leaving a void in the X-ray department. Kent didn’t want to keep hiring, and training, new techs. Instead, he implemented a program training the current MAs to become X-ray techs. Through the experience they get at OOA, they accelerate their training and can become multi-purpose employees. “There are days when a provider is not in clinic, so an MA won’t be working. But, if they are also trained as an X-ray tech or casting specialist, they can pick up other shifts or fill in for employees who might be out,” Kent explains. “Everybody wins.”
A focus on collaborative problem solving has positioned Kent as a key player on the administrative team. He keeps OOA’s bottom line as part of the equation and includes employee satisfaction and advancement in his decision making, but patient care always remains number one. “If I can implement managerial policies that help turnover, are cost effective, make sense from the technical and logistical side, improve patient experience and help create multi-functional, better trained and more versatile employees, then I’m doing my job,” he says.
“The thing that makes Ed different,” explains Rachel Sherburne, OOA’s Marketing Liaison and a working scribe for Dr. McKay, “is that he knows what it’s like in the trenches — patient flow, what a tech or scribe’s job is like, what happens in the cast room. He understands each job because he’s been there. It’s a blessing to have Ed in this role. Employees feel they can come in, have a conversation and be heard. They see real changes that make sense and are in response to issues they’ve identified. Things are changing for the good.”
Visiting Olympia Orthopaedic Associates anytime soon? Watch for Ed Kent in his signature blue scrubs. He may be a top administrator now, but he’ll always just be “Ed” to the patients.
Olympia Orthopaedic Associates
3901 Capital Mall Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502