Your Healthcare Connection: Ed Kent Takes Charge at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Westside Clinic

Ed Kent takes care of people. It’s what he’s good at. And, for the past 14 years, he’s been taking care of people at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Westside Clinic.

His orthopaedics career began with 22 years as an Orthopaedic Technician while in the military. He joined OOA in 2002 in the same role, working his way to Nursing Floor Supervisor in the newly built Westside Clinic.

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Ed Kent, seen here checking a fire extinguisher with Kaytlin Shultz-Lumsden, still wears his signature navy blue scrubs, saying he’ll never wear a suit. Photo credit: Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.

As of May 2016, Kent has taken on a newer, bigger role in the group. He is now the Westside Clinic Supervisor, managing the daily running of the 44-year-old practice. He brings years of experience in the field of orthopaedics along with an intimate knowledge of the people and systems at OOA ensuring the clinic runs smoothly. “Honestly, I’m really enjoying that I don’t have to answer to anyone,” Kent laughs. “But really, the thing I enjoy the most is that it hasn’t been a big transition. 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.”

He may joke about being “the man on top” now, but he is quick to follow with praise 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.

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Heidy Mcwain (left), Ed Kent (center), and Kaylie Parada (right) gather in Ed’s office at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates’ Westside Clinic. Photo courtesy: Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.

For CEO Shah, the feeling is mutual. “When the Clinic Administrator role came open, it was really a no-brainer to promote Ed,” he explains. “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.”

In the past, patients often encountered Ken in the cast room. His steady, patient manner would calm a nervous child (or parent!), comfort an athlete worried about an injury or share his knowledge from over three decades of experience. In his new role, he manages a laundry list of administrative duties from his first-floor office. However, Kent still makes time to apply or remove a cast or two. “I still get to see my patients – I still get hugs, too,” he smiles. “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.” You’ll see Kent, still in scrubs, bustling through the halls of OOA everyday.

Kent’s commitment to patient care and a positive patient experience, combined with his understanding of the day-to-day work in each department, is creating positive change and progress throughout the OOA. One exciting change is facilitating the training of all Medical Assistants (MAs) in the clinic to work in the casting room. “There used to be just two of us who could put on or take off casts,” Kent says. Currently, there are 15 Mas who are trained and available to work in this critical area of the clinic. “My goal is get 100% of them trained and able to help out,” says Kent.

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While Ed Kent may be an administrator now at the OOA Westside Clinic, he can still be found in the casting room from time to time caring for patients. Photo credit: Olympia Orthopaedic Associates.

The same vision that helped Kent understand the need for additional casting room staff has continued throughout the practice. “We were always short on experienced x-ray techs (XT),” he says. XTs often transition to more advanced, and higher paying, MRI or CAT Scan positions after a short time, leaving vacancies in the x-ray department. Kent’s creative staffing solutions solved this problem as well by training MAs to become x-ray techs. Valuable on-the-job education at OOA accelerates their training towards certification and allows them to be multi-functional 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.”

Kent’s focus on collaboration and cooperation has quickly proven he’s a key player on the administrative team. He keeps his eye on OOA’s bottom line, while ensuring employees are taken care of and patient care remains top priority. “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,” Kent says.

“The thing that makes Ed different,” explains Rachel Sherburne, OOA’s Marketing Liaison and a 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.”

Seeing a doctor at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates soon? Chances are you’ll spot 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
360-709-6230

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