Karen Renson | Redeemer Health
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Karen Renson

Karen Renson

Karen Renson

Safety and Risk Consultant / former Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer

How many years have you been with Redeemer Health, and what positions have you held?

I have been with Redeemer Health just shy of 48 years. I joined in 1974 shortly after my graduation from the University of Pittsburgh, and I began as a Staff Nurse in the ICU of Holy Redeemer Hospital. I progressed to Assistant Head Nurse, Head Nurse, Director and other roles.

With each new opportunity I took on more responsibilities and tried to learn as much as I could. Whether my position was a Staff Nurse, a Manager, Chief Nursing Officer or a Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer, I concentrated on collaborating with others and working with teams of people to look at how we could best provide high quality and safe care for our patients and residents.

What achievements are you most proud?

My focus has always been taking care of patients and residents and looking at the safest ways to deliver care, whether it is for new mothers, patients admitted with an acute disease, residents in our long-term care facility, or our homecare and hospice patients. I focused on the healthcare challenges that our patients were facing and identified ways to better address them. One of the proudest moments of my career was leading the team who developed Redeemer Health’s Safe Care program.

We developed our Safe Care program about 10 years ago. As a result of the culture we created and the safety behaviors we put into place, our entire organization has the conviction, dedication, and commitment to delivering safe, high quality, compassionate care. I am proud of my colleagues throughout the entire system who work every day to ensure that we maintain that focus on safety and encourage their staff to practice our behaviors to reduce errors and harm. Together we do make a difference.

What women have inspired you in your life?

Many women throughout Redeemer Health inspire me with the work they do each and every day.  If we are talking about women from our history, Madeline Albright, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia and our country’s first female Secretary of State is certainly one. Clara Barton who in spite of having no formalized nursing education, was a Civil War field nurse and later founded the Red Cross. Harriet Tubman, born into slavery, inspires me because of her fierce desire to help other slaves be free.

 Each of these women were fearless, exhibited immense courage, had a vision, and took action to make things better. Such leadership inspires me every day. Not one of these women were afraid to raise their voice when they saw a need or an injustice.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has a great quote that resonates with me. She says, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” This speaks to me on many levels, but most importantly, it speaks to me in my semi-retired role. I know that Redeemer is in great hands, from all of the front-line staff, our caregivers and physicians, to the service-line managers, to our leadership, Redeemer Health will continue delivering on its mission to care, comfort, and heal long after I am gone. 

What lessons would you like to pass along to other women?

In order to be a good leader, there are several important factors that must remain top of mind, they include honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. You must uphold your word and speak your truth. Even if it is a difficult conversation, be courageous. Rosa Parks said it best: “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right".

I also encourage women to identify others’ talents, help to nurture them, and facilitate placing them in needed positions to help advance the industry. For any good work to continue, you have to bring others into the fold, motivate and nurture them, and help mentor future women leaders.