Kerri Jenkins, RN, MBA, CENP, FABC
Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, North Kansas City Hospital
Briefly describe the business/industry you are in ... What does your company do ... What is your company’s mission ...
Our Mission is: We provide hope and healing to every life we touch. Our business is Healthcare. Ranging from acute life saving work, as one of the busiest trauma centers in the KC metro, a center of excellence of cardiac care and the busiest orthopedic center, to our community health services including comprehensive primary care services. We have the largest physician network in the northland with over 30 service locations.
What led you to choose the profession or business/industry you are in ... why do you do what you do?
Being the family caregiver, I was always glued to TV shows like Emergency with Nurse Dixie and the show Julia. I carried the “Julia” lunch box to school. I cared for my family at a young age, not because I had to but because I wanted to. I spent many years in hospitals with family members including NKCH getting encouragement and support that nursing was the career for me. The knowledge, skill, ability, professionalism, and passion I saw from nurses to touch peoples lives and make a difference made me know that was what I had to do.
What has been the biggest challenge or risk in your career or your business?
The COVID pandemic which was very much uncharted territory. The entire community pulled together with local businesses showing up to come together to help us overcome the challenge. Our COVID response included increasing our inpatient capacity by 40 beds which allowed us to care for more hospitalized COVID patients than any other single hospital in the KC metro area (on either side of the river and state line) and to create a high throughput mass vaccination center recognized as having the highest volume in the state with over 100,000 vaccinations.
What has been the biggest success or source of accomplishment in your career or business?
It has been incredibly gratifying to be fortunate enough to have been the right person at the right time to lead the incredible team of professionals at NKCH through a period of unprecedented challenges. I’m proud to be a “hometown girl” Northland born and bred. I was actually born in North Kansas City Hospital and my family has lived in the area for several generations. My father was a Police Captain for the Gladstone Public Safety Department and my brother-in-law retired as Gladstone Police Chief. NKCH has always been my family’s home hospital so the opportunity to work here would have been a dream job at any time but the ability to do so now has truly been the greatest experience of my health care leadership career. Not only has our team met the challenge of the pandemic but we have set new standards for excellence, having achieved Certification as a Hip and Knee center, recognition with a Chest Pain Center Platinum award, Certification as a Bariatric and Metabolic Center, and recognition as Forbes 2022 America’s Best Mid-Sized Employer. That sort of excellence can only happen when an extraordinary team of dedicated professionals is supported by an entire community. The ability to experience and participate in the magic that results from this combination of dedication, talent, and collaboration is truly wonderful.
Who do you lean on for advice or ask for help ... do you have a mentor?
I have been fortunate to have had a series of strong mentors throughout my career and I have been able to keep in contact with all of them and benefit from a wealth of wisdom and experience. I am very mindful of the critical value of these mentors for my own professional success, so I have done my best to “pay it forward”. It has been a tremendously rewarding activity and I am proud to be the mentor of several talented professionals who hold senior health care leadership positions in organizations across the US.
What are some of your interests or activities outside your career or business?
Unfortunately, one of my less successful challenges has been achieving an exemplary “work – life balance”. With such fulfilling and absorbing work, it is hard for me to “turn it off” at the end of the day. My favorite way to relax is to spend time with family, but with several Health Professionals in our family, it is not uncommon for the conversation to slide into health care topics.
What is one piece of advice you have for other Women in Business Leaders or other Female Entrepreneurs currently running a business or thinking about launching a company?
It is hard to give just one. I think it is important to keep focus. Accomplishment of goals is more important than feeding your ego. Never give up. Find and cultivate relationships with strong mentors. Never compromise your integrity. Surround yourself with a strong team and use them to solve problems. No one can do it all alone. Be a Servant Leader who strives to create conditions that allow your team to excel and keep mindful that success is impossible without the talent, hard work and dedication of others. Do your best to develop the skills and talents of others. They will repay you by doing an excellent job and by advancing their careers and becoming the next generation of leaders which will give you ongoing pride and satisfaction.