When Kari Phillips applied to Akron Children’s in 1989 at the urging of her childhood friend (Gayle Zimmerman), she never imagined they both would have 30+ year careers at Akron Children’s and retire in the same year. On Oct. 1, Kari will log off her computer for the last time as executive assistant to Pam Baker, chief nursing information officer; Dr. Mike Bird, VP of patient and staff safety; and Shana Earle, VP of professional and support services.
One thing Kari isn’t worried about is being bored in her newfound retirement. She has a long list of how she plans to spend her time that includes: spending more time with family and friends; helping at her church; living healthier; reading the Bible cover to cover; reading about history; learning to quilt, crochet and knit; continuing to craft and play piano; and organizing her house.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
No, I started in Nursing Administration on Feb. 8, 1989, and worked there for 10 years as a secretary in various roles. I came to Administration on Jan. 18, 1999.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
Being the coordinator for the Administrative Fellowship Program, I was able to nurture and guide young Ohio State University students early in their careers. My shining stars are:
Priscilla Pham – director, Performance Improvement, Ambulatory & Physician Services, White Plains Hospital, NY
Vish Bhatt – vice president, Community Impact, United Way
Stephanie Chambers – director, Finance Business Systems, Akron Children’s Hospital
Chelsea Venci – administrative director, Medical & Surgical Subspecialties, Akron Children’s Hospital
Dominic DeMartini – manager, Head & Neck Institute, Cleveland Clinic
Olivia Moskaluk – manager, Service Line Development and Revenue Cycle for Women and Children’s Services, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital
Meredith Schram – operations analyst, Neurological Institute, University Hospitals
Taylor Davis – program manager, Regional Hospital Administration, Cleveland Clinic
Other contributions include being the secretary and supporting/promoting the activities of the Quality committee. Starting the universal gift card program with Dr. Bird to be used for service recovery, employee incentives and a way to say thank you. Finding Babel Fish on the internet back in the early ’90s to help translate for a family.
Other than new buildings and construction, is there anything about the way that Akron Children’s has changed that you notice since you started here?
Our commitment to quality and organized processes for improving patient care.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s?
I have thousands of memories, but probably the most important one is how Administration, especially Dr. Bird, (Akron Children’s CEO Emeritus) Mr. Considine, (retired executive assistant) Pat O’Desky, Grace Wakulchik and my fellow secretaries supported me when I needed a rare surgery in Washington, D.C.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Accomplishing tasks and projects above expectations.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
There was a little girl who asked to have her picture taken in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree I had put at the front desk in Administration. She stood there with her IV pole and grinned from ear to ear.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
At work: Answering all my emails, making progress on or finishing projects and helping people.
At home: Getting my chores of the day done, seeing family and friends and ending the day snuggling with my husband watching movies.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Always be kind to everyone. You never know what struggles a person may be experiencing in their life.
What couldn’t you live without?
God, family, friends and maybe chocolate!
What music do you like?
I like a wide variety of music – ’40s and ’50s, pop hits, religious oldies, classical and country.
What’s the last book you read?
The 36-Hour Day – A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer’s Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss.
What’s the last movie you saw?
Unhinged with Russell Crowe.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Spend time with family, friends, craft and relax.