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Kaiser Permanente nurse moves from bedside to construction site

Monday May 5, 2014
Kay Stodd, RN
Kay Stodd, RN
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When Kay Stodd, RN, MSN, began her nursing career with Kaiser Permanente as an operating room nurse more than 30 years ago, she never envisioned she would one day be helping to rebuild the organization’s flagship medical center.

Stodd helped open the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center in 1990, working in both perioperative services and hospital administration. In 1997, she joined the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Regional Administrative Offices in Oakland as part of the Operational Consulting Group, and in 2003 she was hired as Oakland Medical Center’s director of hospital rebuild.

When the new state-of-the-art medical center opens in Oakland in July, it will mark the completion of a 10-year project for Stodd. In addition to her work on the newly renovated Oakland hospital, Stodd also has focused on training, and securing supplies and support services for employees who moved into the new Oakland Specialty Medical Office Building
in January.

Stodd and 11 project managers now are focused on coordinating the opening of the 12-story, 349-bed renovated hospital. The new hospital will house 3,500 employees when it opens this summer.

To prepare for the July opening, Stodd visited and studied every Kaiser Permanente hospital that has opened in the last five years “to pick everyone’s brain about the lessons they have learned so that we can take safe care of our patients as we move them across the street.”

“My job is to see that, to the degree possible, the departments get what functionally works for them in their new space,” she said. “I ask them how their department functions and what their needs are, and then we translate that into information about space and equipment that we relay to the architects.”

Career progression seems natural

Although it seems like an unlikely transition from bedside to construction site, Stodd sees her career path as a natural progression.

“I’ve always been very organized and had good management skills,” she said. “When I was initially asked if I would be interested in doing project management and opening new services at facilities in Northern and Southern California, it seemed like a wonderful way to expand my skills and to impact patient care in a different way.”

In her role as coordinator, integrator and liaison-in-chief, Stodd represents Kaiser Permanente department managers and physicians to the architects, construction companies and construction management team from Kaiser Permanente’s national Facilities Services.

Stodd’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by her colleagues. “Kay’s work and experience in patient care as an operating room nurse manager is stamped in every aspect of the new hospital she helped us build: it’s all about bringing the very best care to our patients,” said Claude Watts Jr., interim senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente East Bay.

How to transition from one role to another

If you’ve been contemplating making a transition from one nursing role to another or moving into a totally different field, it makes sense to get advice from someone who already has done so. Stodd, who went from bedside nurse to working on a hospital rebuild, offers insight on how to approach new challenges.

“Look at your current skills that you have and see where they might be applicable,” Stodd said. “Also, do a self-assessment and of how you’d like to work, and the type of work you’d like to do. Determine whether you need additional training, and if you can be trained on the job or if you need to take classes.”

Some nurses enjoy the patient contact, while others want to transition into an administrative role. The good news is there are so many different career paths in nursing.


Linda Childers is a freelance writer. Post a comment below or email editorWest@nurse.com.